Charming Shoppes is big in women's plus-size clothing. The apparel retailer runs more than 1,800 stores (and related websites) in 48 US states through three fashion chains that cater to the amply proportioned: about 800 Lane Bryant and Lane Bryant Outlet stores in about 45 states; some 600 Fashion Bug stores that sell moderately priced apparel and accessories in girls, juniors, misses, and plus sizes; and about 425 Catherines Plus Sizes stores. The stores are primarily located in suburban areas and small towns across the US and court low- to middle-income women and teens who follow fashion styles rather than set them. The company was acquired by Ascena Retail Group in June 2012.
Change in Company Type
Ascena Retail, which operates through its Dress Barn, Maurices, and Justice brand subsidiaries, plans to focus Charming Shoppes business around the Lane Bryant and Catherine's brands, while closing Fashion Bug by early 2013 and divesting Figi's. The $900-million purchase of Charming Shoppes extended Ascena's retail reach to the market for plus-size apparel, which the company believes with continue to grow.
The sale of the company followed several years of falling or flat sales. Indeed, Charming Shoppes has seen its sales decline by more than a third over the past five years. In fiscal 2012 (ends January) sales declined by more than 3%, and the company was unprofitable for the fifth consecutive year. Sales have fallen by more than $1 billion as the company shuttered hundreds of stores. Lane Bryant, which accounts for about 50% of the retailer's total sales, saw its sales rise in 2012, driven by a 3% gain in same-store sales and a 16% jump in online sales. However, Lane Bryant's gains were not enough to offset loses at Charming Shoppes' other retail operations.
Acquisitive Ascena Retail collects niche retailers. Plus-size fashion is a niche that the company believes will continue to grow as American women continue to gain weight. Lane Bryant and Catherine's are established leaders in the plus-size retail market. With the backing of deep-pocketed Ascena, the brands will have the support to grow along with American waistlines. Indeed, in fall 2012 Lane Bryant launched an big new national marketing campaign and branding effort for Lane Bryant. The campaign features print ads, an updated brand logo and color scheme, updated in-store visuals, and supporting web and social media sites. Indeed, it's Lane Bryant's first new marketing effort since 2008. The rebranding also includes Lane Bryant's intimate apparel line Cacique. The print campaign features some of the plus-size industry's most popular models.
▲ Show Less▼ Show Full Description