Vince

Vince Holding Corp. is working on its comeback — even though the results might take some time.

The luxury apparel, accessories and footwear firm reported first-quarter results after the bell on Thursday, showing improvement on the top line. Net sales for the three-month period ending May 4 were $55.1 million, up from $54.5 million a year earlier. Total comp sales, including online sales, also grew 1.1 percent.

But Vince’s loss widened to $7 million from $5.6 million a year earlier. The company credited $1.4 million of that to strategic consulting fees.

Vince’s shares closed up 6.4 percent Thursday to $12.80 a share before the results were released.

Brendan Hoffman, chief executive officer, said the results were in line with expectations — and position the company for future growth.

“Vince is in a good place right now,” Hoffman told WWD, referring to a growing online business, an increasing store base and even the possibility of acquisitions in the future. “I wish the rest of the world would cooperate.”

The lack of cooperation includes macro issues, like the looming threat of tariffs with China. If the tariffs do become a reality, Hoffman said the company will raise prices.

“We’re not going to sacrifice on quality,” he said. As for whether consumers will continue to shop the brand at higher price points, he said, “that’s the great unknown.”

“We’re in a good place in the luxury market, but I don’t know. We’re looking at everything,” he said, including different sourcing options and faster delivery times.

Vince has also made strides with its wholesale business, including partnerships with Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Hoffman said the partnerships means the company is “getting back premium floor space” in the two department stores, which has helped move product.

And the addition of more Vince stores — a rarity as many retailers continue to shutter locations — has also increased sales. The company ended the quarter with 59 company-owned stores. That’s two more than a year ago.

In July, another store will open, this time in San Jose, Calif., followed by a door on New York’s Fifth Avenue in the fall. Hoffman added on the conference call with analysts that a Vince outlet center will open in Washington, D.C., this month and the company will reveal the opening of one more full-priced store by the end of the year.

“We’re building a much healthier base to bring in more products, like handbags and home,” Hoffman said.  

The retail industry’s mass store closures are what has allowed Vince to open more stores. Hoffman said the company was able to negotiate a number of short-term leases — two to three years. The arrangement allows Vince to move into a location that already had a customer base without locking itself into a long-term lease.

“That’s something that’s worked out great for us,” Hoffman said. “It speaks to the power of the brand.”

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