Byline: Mark Tosh

NEW YORK — Bradlees Inc. has taken the plunge.
The 122-unit discounter became one of the first stores in the Northeast to mark down swimwear this year with a 25 percent-off promotion that began Sunday. Although swimwear has been on the floor at Bradlees since Feb. 1, it has not been promoted in ads or with price cuts, according to Celia Clancy, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for women’s apparel.
To jump-start sales, Bradlees featured six suits on the cover of this week’s advertising circular and two more pages of suits inside. The ads were shot on location in Florida by Bradlees’s in-house advertising department working with an agency.
She declined to specify results, but noted that swimsuit business for the first part of this week has been above plan.
As part of its effort to stand out from other mass merchants, Bradlees overhauled its advertising, dropped low-margin categories that are driven by price promotions and has been trying to upgrade its apparel assortments.
The chain filed Chapter 11 last June and recently disclosed plans to close 12 stores by May as part of its restructuring effort.
Although a few department stores have featured swimwear in ads, Clancy said the those stores have yet to break price on their lines. Bradlees does not do a lot of regular-price advertising.
One of the pluses of having a swimwear sale in March, Clancy noted, is that it gives the chain a read on the current assortment and what lines it can “drive for second-quarter business and real summer selling.”
The best-selling styles include the “hot and cold bright” suits, which are featured on the advertising circular cover, licensed junior swimwear featuring Mickey Mouse and Looney Tunes characters, mix-and-match tops and bottoms, and cotton coverups.

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