emerov, president, told Wall Street that the company had expected that the fourth quarter would be extremely promotional. Sales trends tended to favor lifestyle products, such as those offered in the Lauren by Ralph Lauren and the Jones New York Sport lines. While the Lauren brand showed strong performance during holiday, Nemerov said that the Polo Jeans Co. division continues to make progress in its mission to be the number-one lifestyle brand in jeans for men and women, even though denim sales were down.
A new comfort apparel line will launch in fall 2002 under the Easy Spirit label and will complement the existing footwear offerings within that brand.
Nemerov, noting that Jones was remaining cautious in its outlook, said the company was optimistic about 2002 even though the “very promotional landscape for business” was likely to continue, particularly in the better apparel market.
Peter Boneparth, who heads up the moderate apparel group that includes McNaughton Apparel division, which Jones bought last year, said that moderate was “slightly less prone to some [of the] problems than the better market,” and that the division entered 2002 with inventory in “exceedingly good shape.” He projected that the division was likely to be a top-ten vendor for leading growth retailer Kohl’s, and that it continues to solidify its relationship with J.C. Penney Co. He also said that the Miss Erika brand will be available in Sears doors in the fall.
Boneparth noted that the company was looking to expand the moderate division so that it represents a larger part of the revenue base for Jones. Card added that the company’s growth strategy is to diversify away from department stores, which means focus on the moderate sector. Any acquisition, Card noted, would have to be accretive, have a mid-upper teens return on the investment and a good management team in place.