(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). BODY publisher Nick Monjo recently interviewed Leg Avenue COO Mike Tsai about current issues and future plans at the company. Here is the full interview.
Nick Monjo: Leg Avenue has done well despite that difficult economy. Can you list a few of the most important things about your company that have helped you weather the storm?
Mike Tsai: We believe that Leg Avenue continues to thrive because we stand by our commitment to provide high quality, fashionable and sexy women’s apparel through innovative product design and branding.
Nick Monjo: How has your international business been doing? I know you recently signed a deal with a European distributor. How has that been working out?
Mike Tsai: Our international business has seen an increase of 31% over the previous year both with the addition of our new Director of International Sales, Manuel DaCampo and the deal with our European distributor. We are excited about the future and are predicting an even greater growth margin this year. This year we have made plans to attend MODE Paris Fashion Show, and Salao Moda Brazil 2012, the Brazilian Lingerie Show, in June. Our goal is to increase our presence in the emerging Central and South American markets.
Nick Monjo: What percentage of your business is INTERNATIONAL vs. domestic US business? Do you expect the percentage of international sales to increase? Can you give a figure for now and what you expect in five years?
Mike Tsai: Over the course of the next year and beyond our goal is to make our international and domestic business equal 50/50 in business growth.
Nick Monjo: What are the major business trends in the current Halloween business? How big a factor is it that the next couple of Halloweens fall in the middle of the week? What are the other factors affecting the Halloween business, plus or minus?
Mike Tsai: Anytime that Halloween doesn’t fall on a weekend is a concern. But fortunately, based on the trending numbers, 40% of the population plans to dress up in costume for Halloween, as well as 33% will attend a Halloween Party. Halloween is the 2nd most popular holiday next to Christmas and no matter what day it falls on, people will continue to celebrate and enjoy the one day out of the year they get to play make-believe. Pop culture always has a positive effect on the Halloween industry and this year is better than ever! With popular costume themed TV shows and movies such as The Walking Dead, Once Upon A Time, the new Batman, Spiderman and Avengers movies, as well as performers such a Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga, there are always opportunities for costumes.
Nick Monjo: There was an article in the LA Times that quoted a Leg Avenue official as saying that sales for 2011 were around $90 million. What do you expect for 2012? What about in five years? How big can Leg Avenue grow?
Mike Tsai: Ideally we would like to see Leg Avenue continue to grow and profit each year. We are still anticipating a growth this year as we have released some new costumes that we believe will help take us to the next level in 2012. As long as we continue to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry there is no limit to our potential. We have a great team with fantastic ideas and that is what keeps pushing us in new directions each year.
Nick Monjo: What are the challenges ahead for Leg Avenue? What are you focusing on? What are you changing?
Mike Tsai: Currently we are focusing on expanding some of our current lines as well as introducing some new size categories. Our plans are to produce a plus size catalog, increase our teen and children’s lines and this year we have introduced a line specifically for toddlers. Additionally our lingerie line is doing very well and our shoe business is beginning to take off. We are excited to see where these categories can take us in 2012.
Nick Monjo: Where do you expect you biggest growth to come from going forward?
Mike Tsai: As previously mentioned we think that Leg Avenue is just beginning to touch the market both Domestically and Internationally. Our growth potential this year is huge for all of our products and we are already beginning to see some of the success for these lines and anticipate great success by the end of the year.
Nick Monjo: How big a part is licensing now in your strategy and what role will it play going forward? A more important role?
Mike Tsai: In 2010, Leg Avenue launched a new line of licensed costumes, including costumes based on the “Top Gun,” “Anchorman,” and “American McGee’s Alice” brands. Its licensed costumes were an instant success making Leg Avenue Paramount’s top costume licensee for the year. Based on that initial success, Leg Avenue is aggressively pursuing new brands to help expand its licensed product line. In 2011 it introduced “Flashdance” costumes for adults, a new “Top Gun” costume for children, children’s costumes based on the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie license, and a “Sailor Moon” costume for adults. In 2012, it is adding a line of NBA licensed costumes as well as the license for the classic movie, “Grease.” Leg Avenue is continually looking to expand its licensed costume business and already has some exciting new prospects in development for 2013.
Nick Monjo: You have been making changes with you sales team. What is the overall sales strategy for Leg Avenue going forward?
Mike Tsai: Leg Avenue has one of the most extensive and experienced networks of employed sales representatives in the industry. It has the unique ability to provide personalized attention to thousands of clients throughout the country. For 2012, the company is focused on incentivizing its sales representatives to provide an even higher level of customer support through the full spectrum of its product lines. The company is also developing new sales and marketing tools to help retail customers improve their sell through rates with the Leg Avenue brand even further.
Nick Monjo: Do you have any additional comments about Leg Avenue that you would like to share?
Mike Tsai: Today Leg Avenue is the only company that has brand recognition. Our customers recognize our products on the store shelves and continue to purchase from our suppliers year after year. It is this brand recognition that we hope to build on as we expand our business over the next five years. We are confident here at Leg Avenue that “No one does sexy better….”.
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