Executives were out making their pitch to investors Wednesday, framing their stories as Wall Street remained jittery over political and economic turmoil in Europe.
The S&P Retail Index ended the day up 1.2 percent, or 7.24 points, to 604.52, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 6.66 points at 12,496.15.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. touted its new smaller format store at the Morgan Stanley Retail & Restaurant Conference in Boston. And Saks Inc. said its men’s business was looking good, while Procter & Gamble Co. noted it was cutting costs, but not too much, at the Citi 2012 Global Consumer Conference in Manhattan.
Shares of Wal-Mart rose 1.3 percent to $64.58, as Saks gained 1.2 percent to $10.34 and P&G dipped 1.2 percent to $62.39.
Here’s what executives from the companies had to say:
Bill Simon, chief executive officer, Wal-Mart Stores U.S.
• “I’m very happy to report a rebound in our apparel business. For the first time in [a long time] we had positive comps, in fact, midsingle-digit positive comps across our apparel business.”
• “What we’re seeing is that a very basic apparel strategy in basics, with less fashion — almost no fashion — is [working], and what we call fashion basics or a mass discounter approach to apparel — that strategy is also working.”
• “We are pretty happy with the initial 10 [Wal-Mart Express stores] that we put into the ground. They’re 12,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet and there’s a bit of a hybrid between the food, pharmacy and convenience. We are very happy with the top line. What we are finding is that they’re turning profitable within 12 months.”
Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive officer, Saks Inc.
• “You have a consumer that’s discriminating. They’re interested in value and want to know that whatever they’re buying is worth it, but we’re seeing no price resistance.”
• “I feel very good about the men’s business. There’s a fashion shift within the men’s category with a slimmer fit and a little shorter length for sport jackets. There’s a move toward formalization, a cultural shift. Men are becoming a little more fashion conscious.”
• “Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman, cornerstones of bridge, went by the wayside. We’re trying to bring a whole element of fashion to a bridge-level fit with Ralph Lauren Blue Collection, Tory Burch, Elie, M Missoni, Burberry Brit and Eileen Fisher.”
Jon Moeller, chief financial officer, Procter & Gamble Co.
• “We will not lose share as a result of pricing that is not competitive.”
• “[In February] we announced a $10 billion cost savings program. We are making progress against this, but we have a lot of work left to do.” He said $1 billion in savings will come from marketing spending, but clarified, “We are not looking to make cuts in the brand support.”
• “In today’s developed market, it’s more important than ever that we have offerings across price tiers. We need to provide value in the ways that consumers define it, which is not always [low-end] pricing.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast