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September 10, 2010

Toys R Us is making one of the more aggressive moves heading into the holidays by increasing its footprint 2x by leveraging the pop-up store concept. 



- Don’t be surprised to see Toys R Us stores in unassuming locations this season. After testing the pop-up store concept last year, Toys R Us has announced that it plans to open 600 for the holiday season more than doubling the company’s current base of 587 domestic Toys R Us stores. At an average size of 4,000 sq. ft., this concept will help manage inventory heading into an uncertain holiday season for retailers as well as provide optionality of adding new doors as it converted ~5% of last year’s pop-up stores to permanent outlet locations.


- While it was mentioned that sales in Van Heusen’s Heritage business continues to be robust with 15% growth expected in the 2H largely with key customers, Timberland’s contribution is likely to be overshadowed by existing lines including IZOD, Van Heusen, and Arrow. In a call with Timberland’s management, it was noted that its line is currently the #2 selling brand at Macy’s behind only RL. With the current offering in sportswear, future growth is likely to come from a collaboration that will add more outdoor product to the mix as well.


- It was only a matter of time before the Kardashian sisters made their way to New York. On the heels of their hit reality show, and the launch of a highly successful line at BEBE, producers of their show are now out looking for employees for a trendy new women’s clothing store. Not long ago the sisters were out shopping for retail space in the Meatpacking District.


Skechers Seeks Growth Through Adding Stores - Skechers USA Inc. is betting that a home-field advantage will help sell more gym-goers on its butt-toning sneakers. The second-largest U.S. athletic shoemaker plans to open 37% more stores this year for a total of 300 as it introduces Shape-ups shoes aimed at athletes. The footwear marks a departure from the debut shoe, which promised wearers they could “get in shape without setting foot in a gym.” That pitch helped catapult Shape-ups into the ranks of the best-selling athletic shoes in the U.S. and boost Skechers’s sales 55% to $997.6 million in the first half. Skechers plans to keep the momentum going by luring athletes through its own stores, where employees know more about the science behind the shoe, said Leonard Armato, who runs the Shape-ups business.  <bloomberg.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Give credit where it’s due, Skechers did a solid job marketing and producing a toning shoe for the masses, but a true athletic brand Skechers is not. New stores will be key to selling through not only the new SRR running shoe, but also to help manage Shape-up inventory – particularly if demand continues to come in weaker for some of the new styles.


Bon-Ton Signs Deal With Emu Australia Brand - Bon-Ton Stores Inc. has signed on to be the exclusive department store to carry the Emu Australia brand. In addition to carrying the label’s signature collection of sheepskin boots, Bon-Ton will also sell Emu’s extended line of shoes and slippers — 18 different styles in all —during the fall ’10 season.  Fred Kraft, VP and DMM for shoes at Bon-Ton, said the retailer plans to place Emu on the high-end side of the boot business. Emu Australia will be available at all 250-plus Bon-Ton locations across the Northeast and Midwest. <wwd.com/footwear-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Emu positions itself as the original authentic Australian sheepskin boot, a trend that continues to be relevant, however we’d argue the more attractive prospect for the partnership is the brand’s apparel business. Bringing that category into the fold would be a solid win for BONT if the relationship proves beneficial for both parties.

Strong Relationship Continues Between Macy's and Tommy Hilfiger - If there was ever a retailer and designer brand attached at the hip, it would be Macy’s and Tommy Hilfiger. “We meet every six weeks. They bring in 10 people, we bring in 10 people and we talk through the whole business,” said Terry Lundgren, Macy’s Inc. CEO. Since unveiling the strategic alliance in October 2007, making Macy’s the sole department store retailer in the U.S. of Tommy Hilfiger men’s and women’s sportswear, high expectations for growth have been sustained. “We expanded with a Tommy Hilfiger kids’ business this year, and we are looking into creating an active line, which will really be more of an athletic line,” Lundgren said. “We think there is an opportunity for dresses and maybe some dress-up product for men and women, and bigger handbag and shoe businesses. All of those pieces are still in front of us. We couldn’t be happier with the results. We actually ended up exceeding original expectations.” <wwd.com/retail-news>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: PVH and Macy’s relationship continues mature. Given the success of both new lines like Timberland (see comment above) and existing, but newly acquired relationships such as Tommy, we fully expect PVH to continue to gain share at Macy’s in the intermediate-term.


Amer Sports to Accelerate Growth in Apparel/Footwear - Amer Sports said that under a revised long-term strategy, it will emphasize faster growth in apparel and footwear (softgoods) categories. It also plans to expand its own retail stores and e-commerce efforts. Amer Sports is the parent of Salomon, Wilson, Precor, Atomic, Suunto, Mavic and Arc'teryx. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With outdoor outerwear up +13% YTD and significantly outperforming other categories in sports apparel, this doesn’t come as a surprise. The Canadian-based company is looking to ride one of the few pillars of strength in sports apparel as it starts to shift from a wholesale business towards retail – a move that makes sense given its strong stable of brands.  

TLC and Plus Sized Retailer Catherines Partner Up - TLC is marching down the aisle with the women’s clothing chain Catherines, setting in motion a marketing partnership designed to draw viewers to a new bridal-themed series. A plus-size spin-off of TLC’s long-running fashion series, Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss will bow on Oct. 1. As part of a promotional exchange, Catherines will place tune-in signage throughout its 460 retail locations, while running a half-page Big Bliss ad in its October catalog. In addition to the store’s retail efforts, messaging about the series will be posted on the Catherines Facebook page, which has a roster of 11,204 fans. Moreover, a feature providing additional information about Big Bliss will appear on the Catherines.com site. A co-branded ad will appear in the Bauer’s monthly lifestyle magazine First for Women, which has a rate base of 1.2 million. <brandweek.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: A positive branding opportunity for one of Charming Shoppes’ struggling lines – these types of ‘show-to-store’ arrangements usually drive traffic if nothing else. Now it’s up to Catherines to execute on merchandise.

Ethan Allen Launches New Ad Campaign, Focus on Younger Demographic - Ethan Allen has launched a new ad campaign, which aims to convince consumers that they don't have to splurge on lots of furniture to create a stylish home. The home furnishings retailer is introducing a series of TV, print, online and direct mail ads with a recessionary pitch. Ads position Ethan Allen as an “aspirational” and “attainable” brand through slogans like: “A great room starts with a great piece.” And: “Relax. You don’t have to do it all at once.” The campaign--which is the first new work since Ethan Allen shifted the account to Interpublic Group-owned McCann Erickson in July--is part of the company's strategy to reposition itself with younger consumers. Americans in their 40s, 50s and 60s currently make up the brand’s core demographic. But Ethan Allen, which also offers interior design services, is looking to connect with consumers in their 30s and 40s, who also have some discretionary income to spend.  <brandweek.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: This just feels like a brand that can’t find itself. Ethan Allen is no longer considered a higher-end brand, but it certainly isn’t value/discount either, especially with the success of the Ikeas, Home Goods, and Kohls of the industry that have captured much of the lower-to-middle end consumer. Interpublic Group will have its work cut out for itself getting the company over the stigma of being a tired feminine brand.

 Seasonal Hiring Likely to Rebound on Brighter Retail Outlook - Major retailers are decidedly more upbeat going into this year's holiday season than they were a year ago, according to a survey released by Hay Group, a global management consultancy. While that will mean more seasonal hiring, high unemployment rates will ensure tough competition for retail jobs. <sportsonesource.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: With traffic generally still less than robust, we’d be a bit surprised to see retailers ramp aggressively at this point in the season. That said, the pop-up store concept could catch on more broadly (see our Toys R Us comment above), which could indeed drive demand for seasonal hiring.

Progress With Shopkick - Shopkick has made quite a name for itself in recent months. The location-based iPhone app recognizes when users are near a retail store, then offers them rewards for coming closer to it and bigger rewards for stepping inside. Shopkick first made a splash when it received $15 million in funding this summer—before it had even rolled out its retail rewards app. Then, a scant month later, it went live with the app and announced deals with big-name retailers including Best Buy Co. Inc., Macy’s Inc., The Sports Authority and teen apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc. American Eagle has been using shopkick technology in 52 of its stores in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco for about a month, says Mike Dupuis, vice president, marketing and operations for American Eagle Outfitters Direct. And, he says, the retailer plans to roll out the technology to all its stores soon. <internetretailer.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Reminiscent of retractor beams a la Star Wars, this app is just getting started. As if navigating the malls during the holidays wasn’t challenging enough, take caution as more shoppers will be glued to their iphones tracking deals this season.

China: Five Footwear Companies Draft International Footwear Standards - Five mainland Chinese footwear companies, including Kangnai, Aokang, Red Dragonfly, Taima, and Aogusidu in Wenzhou, have come together to take part in the drafting work for ISO/TC216 technical standards that include the standards of anti-microbial and harmful materials contents, according to the Wenzhou Quality and Technical Supervision Administration. <fashionnetasia.com>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: While it appears at first to be a proactive move to increase standards, China is in the midst of several high-profile corporate scandals involving sub-standard systems and processes making it easier for international businesses to shift operations to other countries. This move alone won’t move the needle – more will have to follow.