Fashion hounds lost in the wilds of Vermont to Montana can take refuge in The Bon-Ton Stores. The company operates some 260 department stores under seven nameplates, including the Bon-Ton, Elder-Beerman, and Carson Pirie Scott banners, in more than two dozen states. The stores sell branded (
) and private-label women's, children's, and men's clothing; accessories; cosmetics; and home furnishings. Women's apparel is its top merchandise category, accounting for about a quarter of total sales. The Bon-Ton Stores was founded in 1898 by the Grumbacher family.
The Bon-Ton Stores comprises seven regional department store chains: Bon-Ton (in the Northeast); Younkers, Carson Pirie Scott, and Elder-Beerman (Midwest); Herberger's (upper Great Plains); Boston Stores (Wisconsin); and Bergner's (Illinois). In addition to women's apparel, its largest merchandise category, other top categories include home furnishings and cosmetics (together, the three categories account for about 56% of total revenue).
The York, Pennsylvania-based company operates department stores in 26 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Sales and Marketing
The Bon-Ton Stores employs a combination of advertising and sales promotions to build its brand and increase customer visits, spending, and loyalty. The chain's target customers are women between the ages of 25 and 60 with average household incomes of $55,000 to $125,000.
The company operates through stores and e-commerce. It also sells gift cards to customers at its stores and through its website, and issues merchandise cards as credit for merchandise returned to its stores.
In fiscal 2017, struggling Bon-Ton's revenue fell 4% to $2.6 billion amid lower comparable store sales. The main points of weakness were Bon-Ton's Better Sportswear and Petites Sportswear lines, as well as accessories. Bon-Ton is suffering from a downturn in fortunes of the department store industry as online and changes in consumer behavior draws visitors away from department stores.
Net loss increased from $57 million to $63.4 million due to low margins. Cash from operating activities climbed 231% to $59 million due to changes in working capital.
Faced with continual sales declines and six consecutive years in the red, Bon-Ton Stores is revising its product lines towards areas where it sees a sustainable future.
Product lines under development are activewear, denim, fine jewelry, men's big and tall, contemporary plus, and furniture. On the latter, it added furniture products to 26 stores in 2016, and has plans for a further 10 in 2017.
New brand tie-ins include Under Armour, Polo, Vera Bradley, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ugg.
Other initiatives include "Close to Home", which promotes locally made products across 45 stores, and "Buy Online Pick Up In-Store" (better known as click-and-collect) for all stores. E-commerce sales grew by double digits.