JONES PLANNING TO MARKET NINE WEST LABELS TO MASS

Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio

NEW YORK — Jones Apparel Group expects to start selling some of its acquired Nine West subbrands to the mass market by next year.
That was one of the key developments revealed at Jones Apparel’s annual shareholders’ meeting Wednesday morning at Chase Manhattan Bank’s executive offices at 600 Fifth Avenue. The goal is to develop exclusive partnerships with mass retailers, and will be considering such Nine West labels as Capezio, Pappagallo, Nine & Co, and Calico.
The venture into the mass arena, details of which are still being worked out, is expected to be a key element of Jones’s overall cross-selling strategy adopted since acquiring Nine West last year. The integrated plan is expected to fuel a 15 percent top-line growth and 20 percent bottom-line growth for 2001, as reported.
The first of its cross-selling ventures is the introduction of the Nine West sportswear collection, set for fall. As reported, the company has said the line has the potential to eventually generate several hundred million dollars in sales.
At the same time, the company is also getting ready to relaunch Jones New York accessories, which is projected to be a $200 million business over the next two years. Under a former licensee, the business had generated sales of only $3 million to $4 million.
Jones is also set to launch Nine West’s Easy Spirit apparel, with an emphasis on comfortable wear, slated to be in stores sometime in 2001.
“Through diversification, we will be able to capitalize on market opportunities,” said Sidney Kimmel, chairman and chief executive officer, who took the stand at the 20-minute meeting, which was attended by about 25 people.
In addition to its core Jones New York and Jones Sport labels, the company also produces the licensed Lauren by Ralph Lauren better line, and the junior-oriented Ralph by Ralph Lauren division. Last year, it also acquired Sun Apparel and its license for Polo Jeans.
Another key growth area, Kimmel said, is men’s wear, which is “still in its infancy.” Polo Jeans men’s is more than a $200 million business, while Jones New York men’s, introduced at retail last year, is in 150 doors, but could eventually be in as many as 1,500, said Jackwyn Nemerov, president of the company.
Jones is looking to add men’s wear to Nine West and Evan-Picone, which already produces a suit line under license, Nemerov told WWD after the meeting.
Overall, Kimmel said that 1999 was a “year of great accomplishments.” As reported, Jones’s revenues are expected to come in between $4.125 billion and $4.175 billion this year.
As for its mass market strategy, Nemerov said: “This holds for us a huge opportunity.” She declined to offer sales projections, but added that the company plans to develop lifestyle businesses that would include accessories and footwear.
Nemerov expects to capitalize on Nine West’s and Sun Apparel’s prowess in mass marketing. Nine West’s Jervins private label shoe division does a big business with mass marketers like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, and Sun sells to Wal Mart and Kmart.
“We already have a strong foothold,” said Nemerov.
Nemerov said performance continues to be strong for its Lauren business. Last year, the company added plus sizes and dresses to Ralph by Ralph Lauren. By fall, the plus-size line will be in 325 doors, while dresses is targeted for 250 doors.
With the Evan-Picone label, the company launched accessories and footwear for spring in 400 doors. For fall, the line should be in an additional 100 doors. Like its apparel, the line will be sold exclusively at May Co. stores and at J.C. Penney.
Nemerov said that the company is seeing an improved performance at retail for Jones Sport, which had been hurt from last year’s fourth quarter to this year’s first quarter by inclement weather and oversaturation of casual.
“We are pleased that it is turning a corner,” she said, noting an improved performance of the last three deliveries.
Starting last fall, the career business has picked up, and Jones New York and Rena Rowan have seen dramatic sales improvements, she said.
“The business is on fire,” said Nemerov, adding that the company plans to expand its career business to capitalize on the trend, though she would not elaborate.
“On the whole, there is a renewed interest in dressing up.”