Fashion’s pitch to investors at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2012 Consumer & Retail Conference centered on omni-channel makeovers, big brands, big opportunities overseas, the high-flying luxury consumer and expense cuts.
And if retail stocks are any guide, investors were lapping it all up.
The S&P Retail Index perked up 1.3 percent, or 7.89 points, to 596.15 Thursday — setting a new all-time high of 597.11 in midday trading as investors grew more confident that Greece would reach a deal with its creditors, ensuring the country would get more bailout funds.
The firms making presentations got their piece of the stock action. Coach Inc., rose 4.6 percent to $76.79, while Warnaco Group Inc. increased 1.2 percent to $56.89 and VF Corp. advanced 0.9 percent to $146.35. Hanesbrands Inc., which updated investors at the conference Wednesday afternoon, rose 0.9 percent to $28.09.
Here’s a look at what some of fashion’s top executives had to say about their businesses at the two-day conference.
Robert Shearer, senior vice president and chief financial officer, VF Corp. • “In 2011, the Timberland acquisition helped drive our outdoor and action sports businesses to represent 48 percent of total VF revenues. And with a full year of Timberland in 2012, outdoor and action sports should approach 54 percent of total VF revenues.…And by 2015, that number should grow to 60 percent.” • “At the end of 2011…we had four brands in the portfolio [The North Face, Wrangler, Vans and Lee] with more than $1 billion sales.…And in 2012, Timberland officially joins the list. We’ll have five billion-dollar brands that, when combined, account for about 70 percent of VF’s total revenues. And as you would imagine, they’re also the brands where we’re investing most heavily to drive top- and bottom-line growth.” Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive officer, Coach Inc. • “North America and Japan represent just slightly under 50 percent of the world’s luxury accessories spend, yet it’s 90 percent of our sales. So lots of opportunities globally.” • “Our consumer, what…she told us is that she is feeling better about the outlook. Sixty percent of consumers said the economy was either staying the same or getting better, up from 48 percent in October.…We are benefiting substantially from targeting a population that is primarily college graduates. I think most of you know that the unemployment rates among college graduates over 25 years of age is less than half the national average, 4.1 percent. That consumer is struggling a lot less.”
Helen McCluskey, ceo, The Warnaco Group • “Our business is heavily penetrated in southern Europe, it’s about 45 percent of our European business — trends in Spain and Italy continue to be depressed and haven’t shown any signs of improving. We continue to see strength in northern Europe, in particular Germany and France have been very good markets, that continued into January and February for us.” • “For 2012 specifically, we expect revenue to grow by 4 to 6 percent, that reflects continued growth in Asia and Latin America. Pretty modest expectations coming from Europe and the U.S. and really an adverse impact from foreign exchange rate. On a constant-dollar basis, we expect revenue be up 6 to 8 percent.” Richard Noll, chairman and ceo, Hanesbrands Inc. • “So clearly [J.C. Penney’s] focus on big brands is exactly what we’re all about. The whole shop concept — we have experience, we’ve done it with some other retailers. In fact, we’ve been pinching Penney’s for three years about a hosiery shop and things like that.” • “I think everybody’s appetite for leverage and risk was a lot higher in 2007 than it is today. As the Great Recession came and then we started to see inflationary impacts coming at us last year that were $400 million, equal to our operating profit, we said this is probably an environment where having less leverage, therefore less risk and volatility, is probably wise.”
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty