(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). Aerie comp sales were up 25% for the quarter ended April 29, 2017. This comes on top of a strong first quarter in 2016, when comp sales for the brand were up 32% compared to the first three months of fiscal 2015.
“Aerie delivered another great quarter,” declared Jennifer Foyle, global brand president of the division of American Eagle Outfitters (AEO). “I’m pleased to report that this marks our 13th straight quarter of double-digit comp growth.”
Meanwhile comparable sales for the parent company as a whole (which sells a range of men’s and women’s apparel in its other stores) grew only 2% in the quarter, totaling $761.836 million compared $749.416 million for the three months ended April 30, 2016. Net income dropped to $25.236 million compared to $40.476 million.
AEO also revealed it is moving rather slowly on its oft stated plans to significantly expand the number of Aerie locations. It opened two and closed one lingerie store during the period, and asserted that during the fiscal year as a whole it will open 15 new Aerie stores while, at the same time, closing five to ten existing locations. As of April 29 there were 103 standalone Aerie stores and 92 “Aerie side by side” stores which are either part of AEO mainline or factory locations.
In the conference call to discuss the results, Foyle said “Aerie’s digital business was especially strong this quarter, showing rapid growth and accelerating from last year. This led to a 47% online penetration in the first quarter, up from 35% last year. Our online swim and bra shop were particularly strong, yet we also saw strength across a broad range of categories.”
“We extended our swim collection this year adding new silhouettes, more fashion and additional fits, all of which have been extremely well received by our customers both in-store and online. Our new apparel collections led by Chill. Play. Move., posted very strong results this quarter and we continue to see strengths in our lightly lined bras and bralettes. We remain extremely excited by the ongoing opportunity to grow and expand the Aerie brand.”
Foyle boasted annual sales for Aerie will eventually hit $1 billion, explaining that the brand is now “not just about bras and undies,” which she estimated will represent “roughly 60% of the business” going forward. The rest, depending on the season, will be “swim and/or the apparel categories.”
Discussing Aerie’s distribution (the number of which standalone stores had dropped to just 91 in the second quarter last year, from 158 in the fourth quarter of 2011), Chad Kessler, global brand president, AE Brand, noted “there is a lot of white space within the Aerie world. Today, from a store portfolio prospective, we only have a 103 standalone Aerie stores, so where some people may say we are over stored in AE, we are significantly under stored as it relates to Aerie.” He continued, “So very small store base that we feel gives us an opportunity to be extremely selective in the locations and the markets we are not in and we are not deeply penetrating today. You couple that with the relationship we see between brick-and-mortar retail presence and digital business that’s driven by that, just to highlight what Jen said, we think Aerie represents a large growth opportunity for the company.”
Foyle praised Aerie’s new pop up store in Soho, and discussed the brand’s “spectacular” Aerie Real promotional campaign. “I really would say that we own the body positivity platform. It’s so interesting to see what a global impact that’s having on just, you read the news and it’s just this is a way of life today. And I would say, even more so than bralettes, we claimed and we own.” She added, “This is our brand DNA.”
“Our customer base grew 13% and we continue to grow double-digits, so obviously this campaign is resonating. But what I love about the Aerie real campaign is, it’s not just how we portray our brand from the outside, it’s what happens on the inside and how, everyday, this team lives by the DNA of our brand. And without that, the customer wouldn’t feel the impact. So there are so many new ways we are looking out how to excite the customer, using Aerie real at the helm. And there are a lot of surprises on the way. So we are really excited what this campaign is feeling.” — NM
A full transcript of the conference call can be found here: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4074125-american-eagle-outfitters-aeo-ceo-jay-schottenstein-q1-2017-results-earnings-call-transcript
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