Expect Santa to bring a little more of the same this year.
That’s the word from Emanuel Chirico, chairman and chief executive officer of PVH Corp., who told analysts on a conference call Tuesday that the generally weak third-quarter trend would stick around into the fourth quarter in the U.S.
And don’t look for a big top-line boost next year in fashion, where the game will be to get more out of slow growth, at least in the U.S.
Chirico said the holiday season, which kicks off in earnest Friday, would be promotional, with merchants looking to drive traffic.
“Christmas is going to come late,” he said. “It’s been coming later. Throughout the last five years, they’ve been coming later. In this compressed calendar, I think it’s only going to put more pressure on it. That’s why we’re trying to be as conservative as we are about fourth-quarter margins and fourth-quarter sales trends.”
PVH raised its profit outlook for the year on Monday and reported continued strong growth at Tommy Hilfiger and better margins for Calvin Klein, but Chirico reiterated on the call that the company was ready to take advantage of any strength in the market, but is not depending on it.
“You’ve seen the results, especially some of our key accounts, department store sector, the off-mall sector,” Chirico said. “The third quarter has been somewhat disappointing when you look at the comp trends and margins.…We’re projecting that trend to continue.”
Asked about how PVH’s distribution footprint will evolve in the years ahead, the ceo pointed to the strength of the Calvin and Tommy brands.
“We have consistently found the right channels of distribution,” he said. “Department stores will continue to be a critical portion of our growth. For those two brands, Macy’s will continue to be a key customer for us. Nordstrom will continue to be a key customer for us as we move forward. And then we also have a direct-to-consumer business here in North America, and I think we can manage that business as we go forward.”
But he suggested more change ahead as retail resets.
“There’s too much retail real estate,” Chirico said. “In the United States, I think we’re going to continue to see that shift down. We’ve always managed the U.S. market as a slow growth market, and we’ll continue to manage it that way.…
“I know the way retailers are buying spring 2020, we’re seeing a real tightening to both buy dollars, much more conservatism being built into the sales plan,” he said. “Next year is going to be much more of a margin year as opposed to a top-line growth year here in North America.”