J. Crew Group, while working hard to turnaround its namesake label, is doing just fine with its Madewell brand.
This is the third distribution expansion since the initial launch of the partnership in March 2015 and will result in Nordstrom carrying Madewell in a total of 76 locations in the U.S. and Canada, as well as on nordstrom.com.
Outside of Madewell stores, Nordstrom is the only brick-and-mortar retailer to sell Madewell merchandise. Madewell does have a distribution partnership with Net-a-porter, and is also sold on madewell.com
At Madewell, sales increased 17 percent to $72.5 million and comparable sales increased 6 percent on top of an increase of 12 percent in the first quarter last year. At the end of the first quarter, Madewell had 106 stores and was expected to end the year with about 115.
For 2015, Madewell sales increased 23 percent to $301 million. Comparable sales increased 8 percent.
J. Crew Group launched Madewell in 2006 and sees the brand as a major part of its turnaround efforts.
Before Nordstrom started selling the line, the retailer surveyed customers and found that many liked the brand. When the deal to sell Madewell products was sealed, Pete Nordstrom, copresident of Nordstrom Inc., told WWD, “Madewell has really great styling at good prices.” He also predicted that Madewell could be brought to more doors provided Madewell, a former workwear company in New Bedford, Mass., dating back to 1937, could handle the increased volume demand.
Millard “Mickey” Drexler, chairman and chief executive officer of the J. Crew Group, started reinventing the Madewell label in 2007 after he purchased the trademark and sold it to J. Crew. Denim, chambray shirts, dresses and leather boots are among the key items in the Madewell collection.
The Madewell deal with Nordstrom recalls Topshop’s agreement with the Seattle-based department store retailer. Bringing Madewell and Topshop to its doors reflects Nordstrom’s efforts to broaden its base of customers and its image.