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NEW YORK — It doesn’t take much to notice that Bloomingdale’s accessories executives seem to have strong rapport.

The main floor accessories areas of the 29 stores are overseen by Francine Klein, general merchandise manager; Joyce Packman, operating vice president and divisional merchandise manager of fashion accessories, and Stephanie Zernik, vice president and dmm of handbags. They appear to be a good fit — finishing each other’s sentences, offering praise and laughing at each other’s expense. It’s likely the department store’s strength in accessories, which is being honored with the Accessories Council Retailer of the Year Award, is a result of the relationship among the three and the team of buyers each oversees.

“One of the things we strive for most is to really maximize the trends,” said Klein, when asked for the store’s accessories philosophy. “From season to season it evolves and changes, and our challenge…is a consistency of presentation and excitement — to what is hot and happening each season — of what is the newest trend.”

A typical Bloomingdale’s main floor accessories environment features a well-edited mix of bridge and luxury resources. The assortment is regularly updated and hones in on the newest trends, from a pair of multicolored chandelier earrings to a vintage-style brooch and a must-have tweed bag.

“I think the accessories business at Bloomingdale’s has always been a fashion-driven, trend-driven business for Bloomingdale’s,” Klein said. “Through the last few years, we have been able to continue to challenge ourselves to improve that on a consistent basis and to be there first with a lot of the new things.”

In the last three years, the team has strategically worked to update and upgrade the accessories assortment.

Typically, Bloomingdale’s accessories departments feature a cul-de-sac bridging the custom and fine jewelry tiers, with collections ranging from Michal Negrin and Chan Luu to DoDo, Emporio Armani and M & J Savitt. In handbags, it has a strong designer presence, with upscale collections such as Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Moschino and Burberry, as well as bridge and better-priced resources such as Cole Haan and Coach.

“In the last two years, it’s been a major strategy of ours to continue to upgrade our assortment and offer a differentiated assortment,” Klein said.

This story first appeared in the September 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Dorothy Roberts, chairman and chief executive office of Echo Design Group, agreed.

“They have been at the forefront of ‘trading up,’” she said. “They have definitely been going for better businesses and better brands throughout the store, and certainly in their accessories. The merchandise looks right, and the way they display it really captures the excitement in the accessories business.”

Bloomingdale’s strategy includes regular trunk shows. The retailer schedules them monthly in all stores.

Klein, Packman and Zernick are particularly proud of the chain’s newest addition, the Bloomingdale’s on Broadway in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. That store features a tightly edited accessories assortment that is more upscale and contemporary than the other stores’. “We think SoHo shows the evolution of where Bloomingdale’s is,” Klein said.

But what do they think gives Bloomingdale’s its special flavor that keeps accessories junkies coming back for more each season?

“It’s the continuing newness,” Klein said.

“The breadth of the assortment,” Packman interjected.

“It’s the way we assort…the mix of the vendors we buy as well as the mix within each line,” Zernik said.

“We think we have the best team of buyers and planners,” Klein said. “The buying team is really what makes Bloomingdale’s different.”

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