By  on March 25, 2013

Just as Maidenform is pruning weak lines of business, the company will be launching its first collection of full-figure bras called Comfort Devotion Full Figure by Maidenform.

It’s a sign that the $600.2 million bra specialist is making strategic changes to build Maidenform’s brand equity while eliminating segments that are underperforming.

As reported, Maidenform had a disappointing 2012 and turned in weaker-than-expected projections for 2013.

Maurice Reznik, chief executive officer of Maidenform Brands Inc., said the company had met fourth-quarter expectations in sales and earnings, but 2012 was a disappointing year overall, with “weak category, customer and consumer trends in our key markets, and increased shapewear competition in department and chain stores.”

He noted it was time to update the company’s core strengths and discard noncore businesses.

“We are exiting underperforming lines of business that require significant resources and have an unacceptable level of profitability,” explained Reznik.

He said the Charmed [bra] brand will be discontinued, and 10 retail outlet stores will be shuttered this year. He added there will a “de-emphasizing of private label” as well. Reznik would not elaborate.

Charmed by Maidenform, a junior bra brand aimed at young women under age 24, was introduced in May 2009. It was sold at major department stores including Macy’s, Bon-Ton, Belk, Kohl’s and J.C Penney.

Regarding the launch of full-figure bras, Reznik said he was “very optimistic” and anticipated the new category will be successful as part of the Comfort Devotion franchise. Maidenform introduced Comfort Devotion for average figures in 2012 for fourth-quarter selling. It is among the 90-year-old brand’s most successful launches to date, he said.

“We will be introducing Comfort Devotion Full Figure in the fourth quarter in select doors of major stores, between 1,200 and 1,600 doors. We project it [full-figure bras] will account for 40 percent of Maidenform’s business in the fourth quarter,” said Reznik. “Our goal is to make this an international launch...Northern Europe, Canada and Mexico are very good markets for us.”

Deliveries are scheduled to begin mid-October. Suggested retail will be around $40.

Reznik noted there’s room for “tremendous growth” in the full-figure bra segment based on consumer research conducted by Maidenform.

“We have the Lilyette [full-figure] brand and we already do a full-figure business with Wal-Mart and Target. But our focus at department stores has been misses and average-figure bras. So, we did extensive research of the full-figure market and discovered that the department store shopper wanted full-figure bras by Maidenform.…They’re looking for modern, sensual styles that are paired with the comfort and support that Comfort Devotion delivers,” he said.

Four styles include a tailored foam-cup underwire bra, an embellished push-up foam-cup underwire style, and two non-foam cup styles — a sleek two-ply bra and an embellished two-ply number. Bra cup sizes will be 36C to 42DDD. Special details include cushioned strap technology, softly brushed casings for underwires and hooks and eyes, and built-up leotard back treatments.

“We are working on a marketing campaign and will have the details by the second quarter,” said Reznik.

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