J Crew to beat sales slump with fresh product
All has been quiet at J Crew since the upmarket collegiate retailer announced it was suffering a slump of sorts earlier this year.

There were gruntles and some ruffled feathers from executives when creative director Jenna Lyons, J Crew's sartorial voice and also its face, kept a low profile.

Can you blame falling sales on a badly received sweater?

When a company of this size loses 5 percent of sales it will get the board on your back so to speak. While there were rumours of a badly sold product item, a not so appealing sweater apparently, it is obvious even to those removed from fashion that a creative director cannot oversee every item that ends up on the shopfloor. Still, creatively their role is to provide the mood for the season, and when that season is off, somebody will need to answer.

The new season is inspired by 'heritage'

This week J Crew announced it would bring fresh new product to its stores on September 14. The new product focus is 'heritage', which hopefully will inspire consumers to continue shopping and help turn around the weaker sales from earlier this year.

“I am not going to say it’s the be-all, end-all, but I think you will be really pleased with what you see,” CEO Millard Drexler told analysts on a conference call.

New product will include Jackie cardigans, Regent blazers, washed shirts, denim, cashmere and ballet flats.

Judging by Q2’s results, the changes can’t come fast enough. J Crew posted a 13.6 million dollar loss, versus a year-ago profit of 10.8 million dollars. Online sales fell 11percent, compared with an increase of 4 percent a year ago.

Drexler said the results were in line with expectations but the company has "taken a hard look at the business and made changes to drive greater efficiency and profitability."

He also said there will be less emphasis on its higher-priced J Crew Collection products.

“Entering fall, we feel good about the assortments in stores and online, which reflect more emphasis on the key product categories that our customers love J Crew for. At the same time, our team has taken a hard look at the business and made changes to drive greater efficiency and profitability. We’re focused on our performance in the second half of the year and positioning the business for sustained growth.”

J Crew's creative director has remained notoriously absent

Strangely there is yet to be any announcement coming from Lyons. New York Times Style Editor Vaness Friedman rightfully challenged Lyons absence, stating: "Ms. Lyons’s job is to shape the company’s aesthetic strategy, even if she isn’t responsible for shaping every garment, no one seems to be even querying her part in all this," she wrote.

Unless of course the clothes will speak for themselves. We will have to wait until September to comment.





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