(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). Comparable sales at Soma were down 2.3% in the 13 weeks ended January 27, 2018. They were also down 1.5%, for the 52 week period ending on that date.
Until the middle of last year, comparable sales at the lingerie division of Chico’s FAS had been notching up every quarter for almost eight years. But they fell 1.8% in the quarter ended July 29, 2017, reversing a lengthy series of positive sales comps dating back (with one negative exception in the third quarter of 2015) since the second quarter of 2009.
Soma’s net sales rose slightly in the latest quarter but fell a bit for the year. Sales for the 14 week fiscal quarter ended February 3, 2018 were $99.165 million compared to $97.411 million for the 13 week quarter ended January 28, 2017. For the 53 week fiscal year ended February 3, 2018 sales were $343.864 million compared to $344.545 million in the previous 52 week fiscal year.
“While we did see early positive response to our holiday floor set, overall fourth quarter performance did not meet our expectations,” admitted Chico’s president and CEO Shelley Broader, in the conference call to discuss the results with analysts. “We went into the season focused on sleep, and saw good response to separates. But our assortment in PJ sets was too limited and did not offer the right print and color options to appeal to our customers.”
“In the solutions category, demand for our Vanishing Back bra was healthy, but sales in the Embraceable bra and Cool Nights were softer than anticipated. Mary van Praag joined us as brand president in the fall, and she and her team have been actively working the brand and making operational improvements. From a merchandise perspective, the team remains focused on key initiatives, including redefining the core franchise and emphasizing solutions, including the Vanishing Back bra, Vanishing Edge panty, and Cool Nights sleepwear. We are also refining our loungewear offering.”
Broader continued, “While we expect Mary’s work to improve top-line results, we are pleased that the 2017 cost management of the brand, operational improvement, and a shift to digital marketing resulted in Soma’s most profitable year ever. These disciplined improvements position Soma for top line growth in the back half of the year. To support our efforts at Soma, we are increasing our marketing spend for the 2018 year, and will be airing responsive TV ads in March to kick off the spring season. We are also testing a new and innovative bra at selected stores, which has been generating very good feedback and we expect to launch this fall.”
As of the beginning of February, there were 1460 Chico’s FAS stores in North America, including 692 under the Chico’s name and 479 under the White House Black Market name. During the past year the company opened one and closed two Soma “frontline boutiques,” ending with 270 locations. There are also 19 Soma outlets. — NM
The full transcript of the Chico’s call can be found here: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4151802-chicos-fas-chs-q4-2017-results-earnings-call-transcript?page=1
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