By  on July 14, 2009

Bebe Stores Inc. will replace all 62 Bebe Sport retail units in the fall with a concept targeting active and streetwear called PH8.

The new focus on active apparel is aimed at adjusting the merchandise mix of the Brisbane, Calif.-based company toward more value-oriented consumer spending.

The concept is to launch in November in all Bebe Sport stores in the U.S. and Canada. The units will remain in operation during the transition, which will involve the phaseout of most Bebe Sport merchandise. Bebe Sport stores will be redecorated and rebranded under the new name.

Although abandoning the Bebe Sport retail concept, the company will maintain the brand trademark and continue to sell some Bebe Sport product out of the units. The company declined to provide cost estimates for the conversion, or describe the merchandise, which is likely to range from about $20 to $140.

Bebe has seen several changes in top management during the last year, including the departure of chief executive officer Gregory Scott in January, who was replaced by company founder and chairman Manny Mashouf.

In May, former Disney Stores executive Tara Poseley was appointed president of Bebe Sport. Former Forever 21 executive Kathy Lee was named chief merchandising officer last month.

“We believe that the conversion to PH8 is relevant and timely, especially now, when the market is flat and economy-conscious consumers are looking for new ideas and innovations,” Mashouf said. “With the launch of PH8, we will expand into a new category while remaining true to our Bebe brands’ core identity, offering modern-thinking women a broader spectrum of special and unique clothes to meet the demands of their varied lifestyles.”

A company spokeswoman said the PH8 name refers to balance and the Chinese lucky number eight. The concept of fate will be woven into PH8 branding efforts.

Bebe reported last week that comparable-store sales dropped 29.2 percent, and that it expected fourth-quarter earnings to be at or below the low end of its guidance of 2 to 10 cents a share.

Bebe operates 308 stores: 211 are Bebe; 34 are 2b Bebe; 62 are Bebe Sport, and one is a Bebe accessories unit.

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