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Mandee, Annie Sez Chains Said to Feel Pressure

Market sources said vendors are having a hard time obtaining financial information from the company.

Heading into the Christmas weekend, market sources said vendors were having difficulty obtaining financial information from Big M Inc., the operating firm of the Mandee and Annie Sez nameplates.

The failure to obtain information is leading some vendors to wonder whether a financial squeeze might be under way for the 63-year-old firm. Credit contacts could not confirm that factors were still approving orders. It appears some vendors are continuing to shop merchandise to the chains, however.

Big M has been investing in the development of prototypes for the two chains. There are more than 150 Mandee and Annie Sez stores operating in seven states.

Annie Sez is an off-price specialty store that sells designer apparel and accessories, targeting women 25 years and older. In addition to a new, 11,000-square-foot flagship in East Brunswick, N.J., that serves as the prototype for new stores and chainwide renovations, the chain operates a flash sale site at anniesez.com.

Mandee is its value-priced sibling, focusing on trend-right merchandise and personal care products for women ages 16 to 35. It also has a new prototype design featured at its Port Jefferson, N.Y., location. The mandee.com Web site currently operates as a social media platform and information site highlighting fashion looks and current promotions. The company plans to launch an e-commerce platform in spring 2012.

Big M was founded in 1948 by the Mandelbaum family, and remains a privately held family-owned business headquartered in Totowa, N.J.

Ken M. Mandelbaum, Big M’s chairman and chief executive officer, retired in September and continues as a consultant for the firm. He was succeeded by his cousin, Alan Mandelbaum, who was president of Mandee.

“We are continuing to inventory and operate our stores and are planning our forward business. Additional information will be shared as we move forward to improve our business in 2012,” said Alan Mandelbaum.