Anthony D’Annibale has joined Jessica’s Brands as president to head the Vernon, Calif.-based off-price apparel distributor’s New York office and bolster its business in underdeveloped categories.

This story first appeared in the February 11, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

D’Annibale was executive vice president of merchandising at Rue La La and senior vice president of merchandising at Loehmann’s Inc., where he started as a buyer in 1989. Richard Koral is chief executive officer and founder of Jessica’s, which has been enlarging its management team after an investment by private equity firm Relativity Capital in 2011.

“In his over 20 years at Loehmann’s, we’ve heard only very positive things about Tony. So I think it is a great fit, and he will complement us,” said Koral, who noted the president position is newly created. Discussing Relativity, he continued, “They are excited about Tony and the opportunities he hopefully will create. The growth has been pretty steady the last couple of years since they made their investment, but they are very anxious about ratcheting it up.”

D’Annibale’s mandate is to drive growth beyond Jessica’s primary strength in women’s apparel, including efforts in accessories, footwear, men’s wear and home. D’Annibale named the European luxury segment as another opportunity for Jessica’s to dive into. Women’s apparel currently accounts for 80 to 85 percent of Jessica’s business.

Jessica’s also plans to leverage D’Annibale’s experience at Rue La La to extend its reach into e-commerce. “It can get a lot bigger. It’s a significant part of the business, but still a huge opportunity,” said Koral. “It’s a channel that’s definitely here to stay and is growing.”

D’Annibale will get help in going after Jessica’s various opportunities. In the New York office, home to five employees, Jessica’s is looking to add to its workforce of buyers and sellers. “Tony resides in New York, so a big part of our focus is expanding our New York presence. Obviously, that’s a huge market both on the retail and vendor side,” said Koral. “Most of our business traditionally has been West Coast-focused.”

Koral said Jessica’s last year registered double-digit increases, mostly through deepening relationships with current customers. Even though the off-price channel has lost some high-profile brick-and-mortar players, Loehmann’s being the latest, Koral and D’Annibale emphasized it is not slowing down as consumers, partially as a result of the recession, are more aware of price differences across the retail landscape and have embraced off-price shopping options.

“The off-price business in general is growing. TJX is doing almost $30 billion and Ross is doing $10 billion, and we see expansion in those businesses as well as the flash sites. Five years ago, flash sites had zero business, and today they are over a $2 billion business and growing,” said D’Annibale. “Then you have your traditional department store outlet business growing. We see opportunity there as well as with the warehouse clubs.”

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