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Old Navy Sets Strategy

LOS ANGELES — Although comparable-store sales are down (4 percent in May and 27 percent in April), Jenny Ming said Old Navy has seen an improvement in traffic and margins over last year, and to stay on the right track, she outlined changes to be...

LOS ANGELES — Although comparable-store sales are down (4 percent in May and 27 percent in April), Jenny Ming said Old Navy has seen an improvement in traffic and margins over last year, and to stay on the right track, she outlined changes to be visible at the chain by fall.

To an audience at the Credit Suisse First Boston Global Retail and Apparel Conference in New York on Wednesday, the Old Navy president said that due to the customer’s concern for fit, the chain has reduced its assortment by 30 percent. It is providing shoppers fewer styles in a greater variety of body sizes, instead of several styles in one fit. Ming said she is also considering rolling out new categories, like maternity, which is selling well online, in the fall. She expects to make the decision within this month.

To clean up stores, Old Navy will create destination shops within stores featuring such items as khakis, shirts or jeans with distinct in-store product signage. The chain will also reduce the number of items piled on tables and lower the product by six inches for better accessibility.

The store experience should be about neat and clean organized stores, said Ming. “I know that sounds basic, but we got away from it and the customer missed it,” she said.

And look for more of the quirky Old Navy advertising campaigns this year. Gap Inc., its parent, has increased spending on marketing by 10 to 15 percent and Old Navy should get the lion’s share of that expenditure.

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.