Brands Talk Product Diversity at Investor Conferences

Diversifying in one way or another to more effectively capture market share was a common theme on Wednesday.

Diversifying in one way or another to more effectively capture market share was a common theme among some of the firms presenting at two separate investor conferences on Wednesday.

This story first appeared in the June 13, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

At the Piper Jaffray Annual Consumer Conference at the New York Palace Hotel, Joe Parsons, executive vice president, treasurer, chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., said, “We’re actually very excited about the accessible luxury business, which we believe is growing both in North America and globally. So we think our positioning is excellent there.”

He told attendees that the company is still very focused on handbags, but has expanded to other categories, such as small leather goods. “We priced it aggressively initially and small leather goods, again coming off of a small base, [is] actually our fastest-growing component in our retail stores today.”

He said the company is also looking to convert 1,000 wholesale accessories doors into shop-in-shop environments, and do the same for women’s wear, footwear and men’s wear. Looking ahead, e-commerce will eventually be 10 percent of global retail sales, but Parsons declined to provide any timeline on when that could occur.

Glenn K. Murphy, Gap Inc.’s chairman and chief executive officer, said at the Piper conference that the company “drove our business on market share in the Nineties through real estate and the introduction of new brands. You don’t gain market share anymore through a real estate strategy.” His point was that one now gains market share through marketing, product, execution and innovation.

Murphy said the company sees itself as a “world class service provider,” given its portfolio of brands. It has three iconic brands — Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy — and three developing brands — Athleta, Piperlime and Intermix. Gap Inc. plans to grow by capitalizing on the global opportunities that are available, an increase in square footage that’s thought out in terms of new brands and in new countries, as well as its outlet business, and via a multichannel experience.

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At the William Blair & Co. Annual Growth Stock Conference in Chicago at the Four Seasons Hotel, Michael Joseph Kowalski, chairman and ceo of Tiffany & Co., said, “We have been and we will continue to be focused on evolving the Tiffany brand to be a more effective global competitor. To that end, we will continue to migrate entry-level price points upward over time, injecting more design excitement and materials innovation into our fashion jewelry category to accelerate growth as we move up the price-point ladder.”

Kowalski emphasized that the company isn’t walking away from the “critically important silver jewelry category. However, we are developing exciting innovative new silver jewelry and fashion jewelry more broadly that we believe will command higher retail prices driven by product design.”

He also said the company will unveil a new Web site later in the year, which will address the changing digital landscape.