THE TOP TEN MERVYN'S MAY HAVE ITS PROBLEMS, BUTS IT ALSO HAS ITS FANS.
Byline: Michael Marlow
LOS ANGELES--Remerchandising efforts at Mervyn's are paying off. After blundering on several fronts and getting clobbered by the weak California economy, in 1993 the chain lowered prices, brought in more brands, and cut down its private label. It also renewed its focus on assortments for the entire family and has been trying to keep on top of fashion trends. Mervyn's, a division of Dayton Hudson Corp., has been pushing a customer service improvement program as well. The chain tends to have a strong following among women 40 to 50 years old, from households with incomes from $25,000 to $50,000, among traditional families and those without children at home. Seventy-three percent of respondents cited selection and variety of clothing as major reasons for choosing Mervyn's. Sales/discounts, price and location also are high on the list of reasons for picking Mervyn's. Nationally, Mervyn's ranked second as the best store for sales and for location. It placed third in terms of service, after Nordstrom and J.C. Penney. Consumers listed it fourth in terms of prices after Kmart, Wal-Mart and Penney's. Mervyn's also scored high on best place for individual apparel items, ranking second for sportswear/casual wear and activewear after Penney's. Mervyn's placed third for jeans, after The Gap and Penney's. It ranked third in Los Angeles and fifth in Dallas. Lee, Levi's, Union Bay, Osh Kosh and Reebok are important vendors for the store. In women's apparel, Mervyn's has introduced fashionable and trendy items, including junior dresses, casual women's wear and casual career wear. Retail analysts say the store's fashion has become more interesting and better priced, with women's career clothing an especially strong emerging category. "There are three key factors that have positioned us for continued growth and success," said Joseph Vesce, Mervyn's former chairman and chief executive officer, who resigned Oct. 14. His departure is considered part of the company's streamlinings efforts and is not expected to alter the strategy radically. "Increased fashion offerings for our core customers, faster turnover, which results in fresher merchandise offerings, and dramatically improved customer service," Vesce said. One respondent said, "They have very good quality at a very low price. You get name brands and they have sales every week." Mervyn's has had success with its Great Value program, which offers everyday prices lower than the competition on more than 100 items. Basics such as T-shirts and denim shorts are sold at the Great Value price, and these items account for between 6 percent and 7 percent of Mervyn's overall volume. "They have the best selection of the type of clothing I like, with brands like Season Ticket, Cherokee and Caskay Blue," said another respondent. "They always have good sales. Mervyn's customer service is excellent. I fell in love with sweatshirts. They didn't have my size, but called all around the Phoenix area and shipped the shirt UPS to me at no charge."
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