J. Crew Group is getting a much-needed lift in business and it’s coming from another retailer.
On Friday, Nordstrom said it will expand its distribution of J. Crew’s Madewell brand to another 15 locations, bringing the total number of Nordstrom doors selling Madewell to 30.
J. Crew Group launched Madewell in 2006 and announced its arrangement to distribute Madewell at Nordstrom, as well as Net-a-porter last February. Madewell has been on a solid growth trajectory.
At Nordstrom, “Our customers are responding very well online and in the first 15 stores where we launched Madewell,” said Tricia Smith, Nordstrom’s executive vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s apparel.
Nordstrom said Madewell’s fall collection will hit its stores on Monday. Madewell is also sold on madewell.com, nordstrom.com, as well as at Net-a-porter. Nordstrom is the only U.S. retailer to sell a broad assortment of Madewell merchandise, outside of Madewell stores.
The fall collection features woven tops and embroidered boho blouses, as well as Madewell “essentials” including high-rise denims, the transport tote, and the slub V-neck pocket T-shirt.
Last year, J. Crew Group’s revenues increased 6 percent to $2.6 billion, while comparable sales decreased 1 percent. There was a net loss of $657.8 million largely due to impairment charges and refinancings. For the quarter ended May 2, J. Crew sales decreased 5 percent to $508.7 million or 10 percent on a comparable basis, but Madewell increased 33 percent to $61.9 million, and 12 percent on a comparable basis. J. Crew Group sees Madewell as a major part of its turnaround efforts. Madewell launched on Net-a-porter.com on Feb. 25, on nordstrom.com on March 2, and four days later, in the first 15 Nordstrom doors.
Before Nordstrom started selling the line, the retailer surveyed customers and found that many liked the brand. Back in February, Pete Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Inc. merchandising, 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 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.