(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). “Soma sales for the back half of fiscal 2020 were the highest in the history of the brand,” according to Molly Langenstein, CEO of parent company Chico’s FAS, speaking during the fourth quarter conference call with analysts.
In the three months ended January 30, Soma sales rose 12.5%, to $119,058,000 from $105,844,000 in the same period last year. Meanwhile, comparable sales jumped 15.2%.
For the year, Soma sales totaled $351,847,000, down from $365,339,000 in the 52 weeks ended February 1, 2020. In addition to its lingerie stores, Chico’s FAS also owns the Chico’s and White House Black Market women’s apparel brands and stores.
Noting “compelling evidence” that “Soma is well positioned to accelerate recent market share gains,” Langenstein reported that the company is now “opening Soma shop-in-shops in a number of Chico’s boutiques. We have opened 10 so far this year and we will open 40 more by early May.” As of January 30 the company also operated 241 “frontline” Soma boutiques and 18 Soma outlets.
Because of the comparative strength of the Soma brand, Langenstein revealed, “we plan to convert eight White House Black Market locations into Soma boutiques.” And added: “To further improve store productivity we anticipate closing 13% to 16% of our remaining store fleet over the next three years with 40 to 45 of those closures occurring in fiscal 2021. The vast majority are expected to be mall-based Chico’s and White House Black Market stores. This means from the beginning of fiscal 2019 through the end of fiscal 2023, we will close up to a total of 330 stores, well ahead of our original multi-year closure target of 250 stores.”
For the year, Chico’s FAS as a whole lost $360,144,000 on sales of $1,324,051,000, compared to a loss of $12,754,000 on sales of $2,037,875,000 in the year ended February 1, 2020.
Langenstein bragged during the call that “according to the NPD Group, for the 12 months ended January 2021, Soma’s growth exceeded that of the U.S. apparel market and [was] the market leader for non-sport bras and panties and was in the top five brands overall in the sleepwear market.”
In the past, Chico’s FAS had emphasized that it focused on customer 35 and older, but in the call Langenstein said that recently “the average age of our new customers dropped 10 years for Chico’s and eight years for Soma.”
She continued, “We have a growing customer base with the most meaningful growth in our under 34 age group as a result of more inclusive branding and evolved product assortment. To continue capturing a broader audience, we will integrate our digitally native and younger TellTale brand on to the Soma site which we successfully tested in the fourth quarter.”
Looking at 2021, the company expects continued improvement at Soma, and Langenstein added “we do expect margins to be better because our inventories are very lean and so we expect to be less promotional in the apparel brands. We were flat in promotion in Q4 in Soma and we expect to be less promotional in the apparel brands and margins to improve.” — NM
The complete call transcript can be found here: https://news.alphastreet.com/chicos-fas-inc-chs-q4-2020-earnings-call-transcript/
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