Tradition is trying to catch up with the times at Dillard's. Sandwiched between retail giant Macy's and discount chains such as Kohl's, Dillard's is rethinking its strategy and trimming its store count. The department store chain operates about 290 locations (down from 330 in 2005) in some 30 US states, covering the Sunbelt and the central US. Its stores cater to middle- and upper-middle-income women, selling name-brand and private-label merchandise with a focus on apparel and home furnishings. Founded in 1938 by William Dillard, family members, through the W. D. Company, control the company.
Dillard's' largest product category is ladies' apparel, at over 20% of sales, followed by men's apparel and accessories (17%), ladies' accessories and lingerie (16%), shoes (16%), and cosmetics (14%). Children's apparel, home and furniture, and construction bring in the remainder.
Dillard's exclusive brand lines include Antonio Melani, Gianni Bini, GB, Roundtree & York, and Daniel Cremieux.
Beyond department stores, Dillard's owns CDI Contractors, a Little Rock, Arkansas-based construction firm that was started to build and remodel Dillard's' stores.
Texas and Florida are the Arkansas-based department store chain's two largest markets, accounting for about a third of total stores. The company operates 293 Dillard's stores and 25 clearing centers -- representing more than 50 million sq. ft. of space -- in 29 states.
Sales and Marketing
Dillard's sells its products in shopping malls, open-air centers, and online.
Dillard's sales and profits have remained mostly flat over the past few years with its rising comparable store sales offset by its shrinking net store count.
However, in fiscal 2017 (ended January), sales fell 5% to $6.3 billion due to persistent mall traffic declines.
Net income fell $100 million to $169.2 million as the retailer scrambled to cut prices in an effort to prop up store traffic.
Cash flow from operations increased 15% to $517 million due to a sharp increase in trade accounts payable.
To try and reverse falling sales, the department store chain has moved "up market", positioning itself above Macy's and Belk and below high-end chains such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's. To attract more customers, Dillard's is focusing on adding more fashion, much like J. C. Penney has done in recent years. The firm's new direction is inspired on the success of specialty stores with their edited displays or merchandise in boutique-like settings rather than an endless sea of apparel racks. New stores are smaller (averaging 170,000 sq. ft.) and located in open-air lifestyle centers rather than enclosed malls. Dillard's, which has been averse to marking down merchandise but has been forced to discount by its lower-end competitors, hopes its move up market will stop the markdowns.
The shift in product alignment might help stave off the onslaught on the internet as when buying high-value items customers are less willing to "get it wrong" -- much more likely when shopping online.