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Still-ailing J Crew in September relaunch, Madewell makes strides on denim demand

J. Crew Group’s struggling signature brand is “relaunching” in September in a bid to turn around the ailing banner which again saw total sales and comps dip in Q1.

“As our strategy continues to unfold, we will deliver an expanded and enhanced product range along with the launch of a data-driven personalisation engine and point-based loyalty programme, culminating in the J Crew brand relaunch in September, just in time for the most important fall and Holiday seasons,” CEO Jim Brett announced on Wednesday.

“2018 represents a pivotal year for the company and we are encouraged by our strong start,” Brett poignantly added.

Despite the J Crew brand woes, there were upsides, too. The group cut its net loss to $33.9m in Q1 from $121m a year ago, and recorded its first quarterly comps gain since 2014. Oh, and its star Madewell brand shone particularly brightly with its comp sales leaping a record 31%, citing its success in denim.

Total group revenues increased 3% to $540.5m, as comparable company sales increased 1% following an 8% fall last year.

Adjusted ebitda increased 28% to $36.9m, while gross margin increased to 38.3% from 36.3% in Q1 last year.

Madewell’s total sales also increased 39% to $115.8m, and that 31% comps gain was on top of last year’s 11% hike.

The group cited Madewell’s strength in denim, its updated loyalty programme, personalisation efforts, social media and building community ties for its continued success. Madewell introduced new fits and fabrications, including fade-resistant black denim and ‘magic pockets’, which flatten and lift the silhouette, and denim extended up to size 35.

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