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Leaders of The Pack

Fiscal 2004 revealed a shifting in rankings for some of the most well-known specialty retailers. Urban Outfitters and American Eagle Outfitters moved up the most in ranking from last year, while on the negative side, Wilsons, Talbots and Hot Topic...

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Fiscal 2004 revealed a shifting in rankings for some of the most well-known specialty retailers. Urban Outfitters and American Eagle Outfitters moved up the most in ranking from last year, while on the negative side, Wilsons, Talbots and Hot Topic lost the most standing. With the addition of New York & Co. to the specialty space last October, Wet Seal Inc., which had a challenging year, was dropped.

Top 20 publicly traded specialty retailers ranked by annual volume.*

1. GAP
Volume: $16.27 billion, up 2.6 percent
Last year’s rank: 1
Net income grew 12 percent to $1.2 billion for the fiscal year ended 2004, the highest in Gap’s 36-year history.

2. LIMITED BRANDS INC.
Volume: $9.41 billion, up 5.3 percent
Last year’s rank: 2
Company founder and chief executive officer Les Wexner has reigned at this Columbus, Ohio, retailer, whose stores include Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, for 42 years.

3. CHARMING SHOPPES INC.
Volume: $2.33 billion, up 2 percent
Last year’s rank: 3
Profits are up 70 percent in the past year for this plus-size specialty retailer, whose stores comprise Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherines.

4. ABERCROMBIE & FITCH CO.
Volume: $2.02 billion, up 18.4 percent
Last year’s rank: 4
The store count for Abercrombie & Fitch totals 788 in the U.S. — this encompasses the 113 opened in 2004. It’s now eyeing overseas markets.

5. AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS INC.
Volume: $1.88 billion, up 31.1 percent
Last year’s rank: 7
Although stores are primarily in the U.S. and Canada, American Eagle’s next plan is to expand via its e-commerce Web site. AE.com has begun shipping internationally to 24 countries.

6. ANN TAYLOR STORES CORP.
Volume: $1.85 billion, up 16.7 percent
Last year’s rank: 6
The Ann Taylor name is marketed under three divisions, which include Ann Taylor (360 stores), Ann Taylor Loft (358 stores) and Ann Taylor Factory (38 stores).

7. TALBOTS INC.
Volume: $1.7 billion, up 6.5 percent
Last year’s rank: 5
Founded in 1947, Talbots serves a customer niche of women ages 35 and older. Approximately 70 percent of Talbots’ audience has a college education, and the majority are professionally employed.

8. CLAIRE’S STORES INC.
Volume: $1.28 billion, down 12.9 percent
Last year’s rank: 9
Jewelry sales accounted for 56 percent of total net sales for this retailer, which provides value-priced accessories, jewelry and cosmetics for preteens, teenagers and young adults.

9. GOODY’S FAMILY CLOTHING INC.
Volume: $1.27 billion, up 3.3 percent
Last year’s rank: 8
In March, Goody’s was ranked third as one of the top specialty retailers where women shop, according to a study conducted by BigResearch, a consumer intelligence firm.

10. PACIFIC SUNWEAR OF CALIFORNIA INC.
Volume: $1.23 billion, up 18.1 percent
Last year’s rank: 10
During fiscal 2005, Pacific Sunwear plans to open 20 new stores in malls in the U.S., pushing its store count to more than 1,100 across the country.

11. NEW YORK & COMPANY INC.
Volume: $1.04 billion, up 8.1 percent
Not ranked last year.
This NYC-based moderately priced women’s apparel retailer makes its debut at number 11 this year, after its initial public offering on October 7.

12. CHICO’S FAS INC.
Volume: $1.01 billion, up 38.8 percent
Last year’s rank: 11
Tapping into a market for older women has helped this Fort Myers, Fla.-based retailer’s stock price increase by more than 200 percent from just three years ago.

13. AEROPOSTALE INC.
Volume: $964.2 million, up 31.2 percent
Last year’s rank: 12
Aeropostale’s brand was originally established by Macy’s in the early Eighties, targeting men in their 20s. Today, this independent retailer’s focus includes young women and men ages 11 to 20.

14. URBAN OUTFITTERS INC.
Volume: $827.8 million, up 50.9 percent
Last year’s rank: 16
Holiday comp-store sales all saw an increase for November and December at Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Free People. Sales were up 18 percent, 11 percent and 64 percent, respectively.

15. THE CATO CORP.
Volume: $773.8 million, up 5.7 percent
Last year’s rank: 13
WWD said in March that Cato recently has begun placing extra emphasis on appealing store environment and customer service for its 950 stores in the U.S.

16. TOO INC.
Volume: $675.8 million, up 12.9 percent
Last year’s rank: 14
Originally a subsidiary of Limited Brands Inc., Too Inc. was successfully spun off in 1999. Since then, stock is up 50 percent.

17. HOT TOPIC INC.
Volume: $656.5 million, up 14.8 percent
Last year’s rank: 15
This mall-based chain caters to teenage boys and girls. It also claims that the latest fashions are inspired from music videos, concerts and music magazines.

18. COLDWATER CREEK INC.
Volume: $590.3 million, up 13.8 percent
Last year’s rank:18
NPD Group, a leading marketing information provider, said that women 35 and older spent in excess of $45.8 billion on apparel in 2004. Coldwater’s target audience? Women, ages 35 to 60.

19. GUESS INC.
Volume: $518.9 million, up 15.9 percent
Last year’s rank: 20
In 2004, Guess launched Marciano, a more expensive clothing line for contemporary, upscale consumers. Seven stores featuring the line exclusively are expected to open in 2005.

20. WILSONS THE LEATHER EXPERTS INC.
Volume: $441.1 million, down 15.3 percent
Last year’s rank: 17
In the spring of 2003, this leading retailer of leather outwear launched its exclusive line of Dale Earnhardt Incorporated clothing, which is targeted toward NASCAR’s 75 million fans.

Source: *Companies that reported full-year results on the common retail fiscal calendar
Source: Company reports

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