(Filed Under wholesale Lingerie News). The former Intimacy retail chain, now operating under the Rigby and Peller name, has closed two branches since September, dropping the total to 12 in the U.S. Under the Intimacy name, the chain once numbered close to 20 here before shrinking to 14 as of last fall.
The name change of the retail stores took place last fall. Since then the company closed its locations in Florida and New Jersey.
Though it celebrated company-wide positive results, parent company, Belgium-based Van de Velde, revealed, in its 2015 annual report, that “In both 2014 and 2015 Intimacy made a negative cash contribution to our result, whereas our wholesale business is growing steadily in the United States and Canada. So the market is not to blame, we are. We need to improve our positioning and our service package to consumers.”
Over the eight years that Van de Velde was expanding its ownership stake at Intimacy (which finally reached 100% in early 2015) it repeatedly predicted it would be able to turn things around at the retailer, only to admit at the end of each reporting period that it had not been able to do so. The new owner had hoped that as it dramatically increased the proportion of its own brands in the stores and was able to exert greater management control (as it increased its ownership share) things would get better. But neither of the strategies improved results.
A chart in the annual report seemed to indicate that combined retail and wholesale sales in the United States dropped from 2014 to 2015. In 2015 combined sales in the “Elsewhere” category (of which the company said the U.S. is the most important market) were 62,406,000 euros (about $70,025,772 at current conversion rates). In 2014 sales in that category were significantly higher: 69,425,000 euros (about $77,901,792).
Another chart in the Van de Velde annual report revealed that of its total sales in 2015, 164,093,000 euros (about $184,128,755) were generated from the wholesale side of its business, while 44,865,000 euros (about $50,343,016) came from sales in its retail shops.
Despite the problems with its retail stores in the U.S., 2015 was a good year for Van de Velde. The firm, which owns the Marie Jo, PrimaDonna and Andres Sarda wholesale brands as well as operating chains of lingerie retail stores in Europe and around the globe, reported a total “profit for the period and other comprehensive income” of 41,029,000 euros (about $46,038,640) on sales of 208,958,000 euros (about $234,471,771), compared to income of just 2,926,000 euros (about $3,283,264)on sales of 198,366,000 euros (about $222,586,488) in 2014.
In his introduction to the annual report, Lucas Laureys, chairman, boasted “Van de Velde has enjoyed 18 years of uninterrupted growth since the IPO in 1997. That has been a constant trend since 1945, with the exception of a brief period during the crisis in the 1970s.”
Looking at the numbers for 2016, the annual report noted, “In Europe and the United Kingdom retail enters the new year with light growth, but the relaunch in the United States has not yet broken the trend. We will continue to explore alternative routes to serve United States consumers. It is the biggest market for large cups and that is our strength. In 2016 new management will be responsible for the global retail department. –– Retail and wholesale are gradually growing towards each other, with the consumer as the focal point.”
The report also noted, “2014 was a record year and 2015 went even further. We are very confident that 2016 will again take it to the next level. –– The orders for spring/summer 2016 are comfortably higher than in 2015. It appears that there is further growth in swimwear. All lingerie brands have posted growth. The most important growth driver is the elaboration of Lingerie Styling, through new dimensions and new countries. Marketing budgets have been raised for all brands.”
In his introduction, Laureys spoke of the challenges faced by a lingerie firm that is focused on new creations as opposed to replenishment of basic styles. “Van de Velde is a company that is in a constant state of urgency. That is because we are a fashion company and our collections have to be ready on time every single season. 65% of our turnover is generated by products that did not exist six months earlier. The knowledge that things can go awry every six months teaches us to be modest. But it also makes us very strong, very thorough, disciplined, methodical and hardened against setbacks. We run, fall, get up and go again. Every day. Without losing sight of the long term.”
In addition to its retail problems in the U.S., the annual report noted some issues with its Andres Sarda brand. “Andres Sarda is still not growing fast enough and the brand makes too marginal a contribution to Van de Velde as a whole. That was never the intention, so it is important that the growth curve continues to rise in 2016. We are very confident that it will.”
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