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Specialty Retailers Projecting Aggressive Expansion Ahead

BOSTON — Despite a tough year, top specialty retailers and manufacturers see no barrier to big expansions. <br><br>Executives from such firms as Charming Shoppes, Talbots, Delia’s, Guess and Oakley outlined bullish growth plans at an...

BOSTON — Despite a tough year, top specialty retailers and manufacturers see no barrier to big expansions.

Executives from such firms as Charming Shoppes, Talbots, Delia’s, Guess and Oakley outlined bullish growth plans at an annual consumer growth conference here, sponsored by CIBC World Markets, the investment and merchant banking arm of CIBC.

Here’s a rundown of what the retailers are projecting:

l Charming Shoppes claimed a 40 percent share of the plus-size market and projected sales for the fiscal year ending Feb. 1, 2003 of about $2.45 billion, with low single-digit comparable-store gains. Dorrit J. Bern, chairman, president and chief executive, said Lane Bryant sales will grow from $940 million to $1.5 billion; Catherine’s will double from its current $306 million, and Fashion Bug will stay even at $502 million. The company expects to open 55 to 60 stores this year, most under the Lane Bryant and Catherine’s banners. Bern projected Lane Bryant could reach 1,000 stores from its current 653, and Catherine’s could grow to between 700 and 800 from 467. Fashion Bug has 1,228 stores, with 44 of them getting converted to Lane Bryant.

Charming is expanding Lane Bryant into strip shopping centers. “We realized we are doing the same sales per square foot in strips as in malls,” which is over $300 per square foot and at a much lower cost structure, Bern noted.

l Pacific Sunwear of California projects 2002 sales of about $800 million, compared with $689 million last year, said Greg Weaver, chairman and ceo. The company operated 549 Pac Sun stores at the end of 2001 and expects to have 607 by the end of this year. Ten d.e.m.o. stores will open this year, bringing the total for the hip-hop chain to 111. Seven outlets will open, for a total of 75, but no more outlets are planned. Weaver sees the potential for 800 PacSun and 200 d.e.m.o. stores in the U.S.

PacSun is expanding on girls’ apparel, which is seen representing 45 percent of sales this year, from 39 percent last year. The chain is increasing its advertising in magazines aimed at teen girls.

l Arnold B. Zetcher, chairman, president and ceo of Talbots, the keynote luncheon speaker, said his firm will unveil a store prototype, updating the current design, at an upscale regional mall in October. He declined to identify the location. The chain expects to open 85 stores this year, and have about 1,100 stores by 2005, from the current 800. Talbots will launch men’s wear via a 24-page insert in its holiday catalog, to be followed by three men’s specialty stores next spring.

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

l Delia’s, the teen apparel retailer, projects 400 stores in malls; it currently operates 56, said Andrea Weiss, president. Twenty stores are planned this year; 30 in 2003. Retail accounts for 40 percent of sales. The company started as a direct merchant and will mail 37 million catalogs this year. Half of direct sales are from its Web site, Weiss said.

l Guess plans to open 23 stores this year, bringing the total in the U.S. and Canada to 250, including 172 full-line stores, 68 outlets and 10 children’s stores. The full-line stores include the more upscale Guess Collection and the G Brand line of men’s and women’s apparel being developed in Italy, said Carlos Alberini, president and chief operating officer.

For the 12 months ended in March, Guess had total sales of $646 million, with 59 percent from retail, 35 percent from wholesale and 6 percent from royalties on licensing. “Four years ago, wholesale would have been much more significant,” Alberini told investors.

l Oakley Inc. continues to experiment with retail formats to showcase its sunglasses, apparel and other products, said Link Newcomb, chief operating officer. The company plans to add nine or 10 stores in malls this year. It already operates eight. Its first mall kiosk opened in Phoenix this year. Oakley also plans to open 18 to 20 stores under the three retail banners operated by Iacon, a 43-unit sunglass chain Oakley acquired last fall.

l Fossil is seeing good sales gains for its Relic brand, developed for J.C. Penney, Sears and Kohl’s, said Mike Kovar, chief financial officer of the accessories firm, which is getting more global. “Sales doubled in the first quarter, though off a low base.” The firm operates 95 stores, half of which are outlets, said Kosta Kartsotis, president and ceo.

U.S. Sales should account for less than half of Fossil’s volume this year for the first time, Kartsotis said. The company does 68 percent of its business in watches; 20 percent, accessories, and 12 percent, retailing.

l Quiksilver projects sales for fiscal 2002 of $672 million, compared with $615 million last year, said Steve Brink, chief financial officer. The company plans to open between 30 and 40 stores this year, under the Boardriders Club banner and other names, including Roxy. Retailing accounts for 12 percent of sales.