There are green shoots beginning to emerge for Tailored Brands.
Earlier this month, the country’s largest men’s-only public retailer raised its projections for the second fiscal quarter, which will be released on Sept. 11. It now expects net sales in the range of $787 million to $789 million, GAAP diluted earnings per share in the range of 64 cents to 66 cents and adjusted diluted EPS in the range of 78 cents to 80 cents, which is above the projections made on June 12 of adjusted EPS of 65 cents to 70 cents.
This is the first positive sign that the new management team is having an effect on a business that has been under strain since paying a whopping $1.8 billion to buy Jos. A. Bank in 2014, saddling the company with debt. Add to that a shift in the men’s market with tailored clothing — Tailored Brands’ bread and butter — undergoing a precipitous decline in favor of streetwear and athletic wear.
In the past year, the once high-flying company has seen most of its top executives exit and a new slate of officers at the helm. In March, Dinesh Lathi was elevated to chief executive officer, replacing longtime chief Doug Ewert who retired in the fall of last year. Lathi, the one-time ceo of One Kings Lane and a former eBay executive, has been especially critical of the company’s performance, blaming it on a lack of investment and the inability to keep pace with the changing male consumer. He said Tailored Brands needs to offer more personalized products and service, a better omnichannel experience and fewer promotions.
That message has been delivered loud and clear throughout the organization, and other dramatic changes are happening. One was the pivotal appointment of Carrie Ask, a former executive at Levi Strauss and Nike, as president of the flagship Men’s Wearhouse division and Moores, its Canadian counterpart, last October. At the time of her hiring, Lathi pointed to her “passion for the customer and her ability to develop innovative solutions to adapt to today’s rapidly evolving retail landscape.”
In early August, Ask assembled her team, naming three new executives to help her drive profitable growth at the two divisions, which have sales of around $2 billion and operate nearly 900 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
New to the team are Mary Ann McGrath, a former Williams Sonoma executive who has been named senior vice president and chief marketing officer; former Calvin Klein exec Jerry Brandehoff who is the new senior vice president and general merchandise manager, and walmart.com executive Sharmila Sudhakar, who is now the divisions’ vice president of e-commerce.
At the time of their appointment, Ask said that together they will be working to “transform our business to deliver an unparalleled customer experience through personalized products and services, inspiring and seamless experiences in and across every channel, and brands that stand for something more than just price.”
Tailored Brands has also exited its non-core business when it sold its corporate apparel division to existing management on Aug. 19 for $62 million in cash. The company said it would use that money to pay down debt, freeing up cash for capital expenditures.
Some of those expenditures will undoubtedly include updating the store base. So far, 80 units in the fleet have received an “enhanced visual merchandising package” that includes a more-elevated presentation, better graphics and mannequins, and reduced stock on the floor with an emphasis on more “polished casual” looks.
Although Ask knows that the work is just beginning, she said, “We’re encouraged by the consumer response so far,” she said. “We’re feeling the momentum and now I have my team in place to take this forward.”
Janet Kloppenburg of JJK Research who has followed the company for decades, believes Tailored Brands is heading in the right direction, but cautioned that it may take a while before the top line shows improvement. During the last earnings call in June, the company said comparable-store sales are expected to be down 3-5 percent at Men’s Wearhouse and 2-4 percent at Jos. A. Bank and Moores in the second quarter, she pointed out, “so they still have work to do.”
She pointed out that “some of their casualization efforts are a little behind,” and their store presentation needs updating, but the custom suit business is healthy and “they’re testing a lot of things in terms of the in-store presence, marketing and beefing up their omnichannel efforts.”
The company’s move to become a source for businesswear in addition to refined casualwear is on the mark, she believes, but a significant change in the assortment won’t be evident until the end of the fourth quarter and into spring of next year.
“The department stores are talking more about men’s now,” she added, “so that could be a headwind for them as well. They’ve got to be careful not to sway too far into weekend wear because the competition there is intense, but I feel like they’ve got the right strategies in place.”