Charming Shoppes is big in women's plus-size clothing. The apparel retailer runs about 1,190 stores (and related websites) in 48 US states through a pair of fashion chains that cater to the amply proportioned: some 790 Lane Bryant and Lane Bryant Outlet stores in about 45 states; and another 400 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 plus-size apparel company was acquired by Ascena Retail Group in 2012.
Change in Company Type
Ascena Retail Group, which operates through its Dress Barn, Maurices, and Justice brand subsidiaries, acquired Charming Shoppes in June 2012 for $882 million. The purchase extended Ascena's retail reach to the market for plus-size apparel, which the company believes with continue to grow.
One of the better-known brands in plus-size apparel, Lane Bryant courts women generally ranging in age from 25 to 45 years old, while Catherines focuses on customers 45 years of age and older. Lane Bryant offers intimate apparel, careerwear, casual sportswear, accessories, and some footwear under its private Lane Bryant and Cacique brands, as well as select national brands. Catherines is particularly know for extended sizes (28 to 34) and offers career clothes and casual apparel. Both brands sell apparel online.
Charming Shoppes rang up $1.37 billion in sales in fiscal 2013 (ended July), with Lane Bryant contributing more than 75% of the total. Same-store sales declined by 2% at Lane Bryant stores, while Catherines saw an 8% increase in comparable sales. Overall, Charming Shoppes contributed about 29% of its parent company's sales in fiscal 2013.
Charming Shoppes new owner has focused the business around the Lane Bryant and Catherine's brands, while closing its 600-store Fashion Bug apparel chain in 2013 and divesting its food and gift business Figi's. The decision to jettison Fashion Bug and Figi's was driven by several years of declining or flat sales and unprofitability at Charming Shoppes. Also, 17 Lane Bryant and 25 Catherines stores were closed in fiscal 2013.
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.