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Running head: LANE BRYANT, INC 1

LANE BRYANT, INC. 20

Executive Summary

Lena Bryant, the creator and owner of the first store for expectant mothers opened its doors on 5th Avenue in New York City in 1904, using the name of Lane Bryant, Incorporated. The clothing store since that time as shown growth to achieve being one of the largest fashion designers for women’s plus-sizes clothing, and has been growing in approval of the fashion industry and media groups.

The purchasing markets of foreign countries have been an underserved population for Lane Bryant. These customers rely on orders for products only through on-line catalog sales, mainly because there is not a store located in certain areas. The parent company Ascena Retail Group at present time has established retail locations in Canada and Puerto Rico, but these stores are operated through other companies that Ascena owns, such of Ann Taylors, Inc. and Tween Brands, Inc.

Expanding Lane Bryant’s globally into the United Kingdom and the country of France allows the patrons the capabilities to do shopping and know that the garments fit properly and would create a loyal customer base. This would allow Lane Bryant Inc. to increase profits and increase their customers along with expanding their brands.

Introduction

This document of Lane Bryant proposes whether the clothing retailer Lane Bryant Inc., should expand their establishments on a global basis. The clothing and fashioning industries are very competitive industries and one aspect that has been gaining attention is the women’s plus-size clothing line. Many women that require a larger size of 14 or above but still want clothes that fit properly and look nice to wear. Oversize ill-fitting looking garments do not flatter or make a woman feel accepted or confident. Lane Bryant Inc. has gained ground in the fashion industry with the women’s plus size clothing line, but many of these consumers’ are underserved by having to guess what size will fit properly and have to wait until they receive the merchandise to see if it fits. When the purchase does not fit properly, there is a long drawn out process of returning the item and having to wait for a refund. By globally expanding it will allow the company to expand their customer base by creating loyal customers, reducing expenses associated with the returns by allowing the consumer to return the item to the local store. While the customer is in the store the profits would increase due to additional purchases that might be made, and would gain in Lane Bryant’s share of the fashion industry and making them the leader of women’s plus size fashion globally.

Company Background

History

Lane Bryant Inc. was started by Lena Bryant who was an immigrant from Lithuanian in 1895. She started out as a seamstress tailoring bridal dresses and sewing garments for expected mothers. The demand for Lena’s creations grew and she was able to open her own shop in 1904. Lena Bryant was very independent and fashionable about her work which. She opened her shop on 5th Avenue in New York City under the name of Lane Bryant. The clothes for the expectant mothers became very popular item that she dropped the bridal dresses and focused on stylish well fitting clothes for expectant mothers. Being unable to do any advertising proved to be a very difficult task since in those days expectant mothers were kept in exile and not seen in public as they are today. Lena continued to persist in trying to do advertising and finally managed to have a small ad run in the New York Herald, which she was able to sell out of all her maternity dresses on the day the ad appeared (FundingUniverse 2004). Even with the success that Lena Bryant had with these ads, she continually was having problems with other printing companies unwilling to run the ads for her. At this point she turned her selling of garments through mail order catalogs.

In her thinking about how the clothes she had created and how she would start marketing them. Lena needed to stay in the public's eye and minds of her customers, she needed to know what the likes and dislikes of her customers were. By the use of a survey which was very unique at this time in the country and with the helping hand of her husband, they were able to launch their own survey exclusively for females, obtaining the results of over 200,000 by using the data from an insurance company and 4,500 customers of Lane Bryant. With the roaring 20's approaching, the garment industry was focusing on the slimmer and more physical side such as "Gibson Girls". Lena along with her husband organized the "woman of larger sizes that made up more than half the female population, that provided enough under-served customer base" (Reference for business, 2016). This was the time that Lena started identifying what the market was for her business. For the fashion industry the plus-sizes were not very popular, which gave Lena the opportunity to popularize the larger sizes (the plus-sizes). In the early twenties, 1922, was the time that advertising began on the campaign for "misses plus-sizes", This line brought in larger, and more selections of sizes to the clothing line of "misses category" (Lubitz, 2016).

Shortly after that, Lane Bryant stores had moved further west and began to open facilities, which was the first "chain" of stores. By opening additional stores it provided Lena the opportunity to reach additional customers, and the thought of expanding further in the future. Sales of Lena's brand names were continuing to grow, mail order sales had increased to over $5 million. Lane Bryant at this time decided to expand to include additional articles which included shoes, hosiery, and swim wear to her line of women's plus-sizes (FundingUniverses, 2004)

In her thinking about the clothes she had created and how she would market them, Lena Bryant needed to stay in the public’s eye and minds of her customers, she needed to know what the likes and dislikes of her customers were. By the use of a survey which was very unique at this time in the country. With the helping hand of her husband, they were able to launch their own survey exclusively for females, obtaining the results of over 200,000 women using the data from an insurance company and 4,500 customers of Lane Bryant. With the roaring 20’s just around the corner, the garment industry was already focusing on the slender and more athletic “Gibson Girl”. Lena and her husband Malsin found the “women of larger sizes” made up more than half the female population, providing an ample, underserved customer base” (Reference For Business, 2016). At this point Lena had identified the market for her company. For the fashion industry the plus size was “largely popularized by Lane Bryant, a store that was not always focused on larger sizes. In 1922, Lena began advertising “Misses Plus Sizes”, which offered a larger versions of clothing in the “misses category”, meaning exclusively for women” (Lubitz, 2016)

Within a short period of time, Lane Bryant began expanding out west and started opening stores to become a well known chain. This opportunity provided Lena the ability to reach more customers and looking to expand any further. The sales of her garments continued to grow, “the mail-order catalog sales increased in 1917 to over $5,000,000. Lane Bryant and this time decided to add additional articles such as shoes, hosiery, and bathing suits to her line of plus-sizes” (FundingUniverse, 2004).

As the organization continued to grow under the watchful eye of Lena, she remembered that one of your most important assets of the company were her employees, that she relied upon on a daily basis, and needed to be taken care of on a daily basis. This momentum was what Lena counted on and used when she created Lane Bryant to start with which she continued to carry though all of the aspects of her organization. Funding universe quoted as saying that " Lane Bryant was a pioneer in progressive human relations and one of the first to offer employees benefits such as health care options, and profit sharing" (FundingUniverse, 2004). By the end of 1981 the sales had grown to well over $400,000,000 and the stores had increased to 2000.

The 1980's brought about a new era for Lane Bryant. This era brought about a transformation and new life for the company. In 1982 the organization merged with The Limited Stores, Incorporation. According to Isadore Barmas, Lane Bryant had purchased the women's apparel chain of stores that was based out of Columbus Ohio for $100,000,000 (Barmas, 1983). Being the largest retailer of the plus-size clothing line, Lane Bryant would be adding to their fashion line by acquiring the Limited Stores. This would mean that Lane Bryant was expanding and using the stores of Limited Stores as their umbrella. This would bring in a fresh line of apparel, updating the clothes, bringing in a new customer clientele, and boost the overall image of Lane Bryant. Reinforcing that Lane Bryant was the largest retailer of the women's plus-size clothing line and would expand the fashions even more with Limited Stores fashions.

In the 1990’s Lane Bryant Inc. revised her marketing team to aimed at promoting larger body sizes; this promotion would included the endorsements of several celebrity endorsements. This time brought about many important discoveries for Lane Bryant Inc. which was a milestone, these included advertisements for women's plus size clothing that appeared in such fashion magazines as Marie Claire, Glamour, and Mode. Lane Bryant started up a web page informing the clientele about information regarding the garments promotions, along with the use of coupons that could be used in the stores for added discounts. These coupons could be printed out by the customers. The customer response was enormous; the costumers appeared in the stores in very large numbers “With the web site appearance, Lane Bryant has had 100,000 patrons sign up for regular mailings and promotions through emails in the last year and a half” (Goldman, 1999). The corporation started developing a new plan for a large promotion of the women's plus size line of fashions, “Lane Bryant had plan to do a live broadcast of what their vision of the plus-size by doing a fashion show that was to be simulcast over the Web and on billboards that would allow videos in the Sunset Strip areas and in Times Square in New York” (Goldman, 1999)

The next development for Lane Bryant took place in 2001 when the Limited Stores Inc. took over the Charming Shoppes Inc. According to Reuters, “ Charming Shoppes inc. had agreed to purchase the Lane Bryant stores for $335 million in cash and stocks. Lane Bryant at this time had a total of 653 stores and this merger would increase Charming's who also is the owners of the Fashion Bug and Catherine's Plus retail chains. Lane Bryant with this would have a larger appearance in shopping malls and would unchallenged leadership in the women's plus size which is the one of fastest growing departments in the fashion industry today” (Reuters, 2001).

In 2012 Ascena Retail Group purchased all of the Charming Shoppes Inc. at a cost of over $800 million. With this purchase Ascena experience meaningful growth for the organization. This purchase included the Dress Barn and Justice, a teen-age clothier to enter the plus-size growing market of women’s fashions. According to the CEO, David Jaffe of Ascena Retail Group, this acquisition is an opportunity at the correct time for the organization. David Jaffe stated “Charming Shoppes make an excellent strategic fit for Ascena which has major components of our strategy or growing over the past and made a selective and powerful acquisition” (Nazworth, 2012). Lane Bryant Inc. is and will continue to be a valuable part of the Ascena Retail Group family today.

Lane Bryant, with the assistance of Ascena Retail Group, providing the encouragement of their marketing crusade, “Lane Bryant the plus-sizes fashioning designer is spending $10 million on advertising to make the clothes and lineries more appealing to the current customers and any new consumers. It will include new advertisements; a reworking of the Web sites and reaching out to social media groups, along with marketing initiative for the in store customer. A new Lane Bryant logo will be included, along with Cacique Lingeries” (Levere, 2012).

Current Status

Lane Bryant Inc. is known to be one of the most recognized women’s plus size fashion stores in the country. There offering of apparel that is not only enhancing in appearance, and lingerie to accommodate women in the plus sizes making them affordable, and are eloquent to look at. Under the parent company Ascena Retail Group they “operate over 800 full-line and outlet store in 48 states nationwide, targeting the plus size women in the 30-45 age group, and catering to women sizes 14-28. Our highly regarded brand of intimates, Cacique is a Lane Bryant exclusive and is famous for fit solutions and fashion styling in bras, panties, sleepwear, swimwear and more” (Ascena, 2016)

In the fall of 2016 Lane Bryant Inc launched their collection reintroducing what was known as "the 6th and Lane" line of clothing. According to Bloomberg this line is “designed to itfit into the life styles of women that are conscious about personal styles. The line will be filled with the newest elated fabrics and designs that are innovating, that are allowing the Lane Bryant consumer to build an adaptable, fashionable collection of clothes” (Bloomberg, 2016). With the reintroduction of this collection the consumers will register to be placed on a mailing list to receive monthly arrivals of garments ranging from lingerie to swim wear.

Lane Bryant Inc. is continuing to move forward within the limits of having the women’s plus size apparels and most importantly that women are accepted in today’s society. Lane Bryant is using the support of celebrities, to help endorse the product, and the promotions that Ashley Graham, a model from Sports Illustrated, to continue the advertising of the plus size apparels. The advertisement that featured Ashley Graham was refused air time and inspired the campaign #IMNOANGEL. This campaign according to Rose “has been described as provocative, even though the models do not reveal anymore parts that other favored brands. Using “#ImNoAngel” – written in lipstick on a mirror- all are encouraged to share their designs across social media mediums. This campaign is stressing about how to help women gain the confidences to be the best that they can” (Rose, 2016).

New York’s Fashion Week designer Christian Siriano included the plus size models in his show, that showed a sign that the line was being acceptance by the general public. Christian Siriano had designed larger garments for family members long before he became a famous designer. He had been working jointly with Lane Bryant Inc. on their line of clothing and spoke about the clothing industry and his work with Leslie Jones. According to Murray “you celebrate people looking good. On the red carpet, I have adored women bigger than Leslie before” (Murray, 2016).

SWOT ANALYSIS

Strengths

Marketing

One of the wide ranges of strengths that Lane Bryant Inc has is in their marketing agenda, is when Lena Bryant did her survey about the wants and needs of woman, along with the practical internal data of the measurements that the consumers had given them. The results of this survey provided a good foundation for the marketing plan that identified their customers and provided them with what the company is looking for retaining loyal customers.

At present time the focus of marketing is about the same as it has always been, which includes product identification, the right pricing, doing promotions, and the right location; this particular form of procedure has been improving over time and have been incorporated with today's marketing quality. Lane Bryant is now selling merchandise that the consumers are wanting and are accustom to seeing in stores. Lane Bryant's product strategy is providing products that are easily recognized as the Lane Bryant brands. According to Lane Bryant's web site, "The company has partnered with Spanx, Bali, Goddess, and Seven7 jeans as a retail distributor for these third-party brands (Lane Bryant, 2018). Lane Bryant is working hard to continue to focus on keeping cost as low as possible for the merchandize to make the items as affordable for all women regardless of what size they may wear. One way to accomplish this goal is to offer discount coupons to consumers along with discount and reward coupons through Lane Bryant’s credit cards. Promotions are in various forms such as printed ads in popular magazines, television commercials, social media accounts, and through our sales associates. One of companies best advertisers are our sales associates. By talking with the consumers on what they are looking for, and what their wants and needs are.

Technology

Lane Bryant focuses on being a number one fashion advanced discoverer. In 2001, Lane Bryant was the leader in the fashion world and successfully brought to the world the 3-D imaging. According to Kurt Peters, Lane Bryant was the first in fashion to install the 3-D virtual model technology on the web site (Peters, 2001). According to Funding, "The My Virtual Model that was made public in 2001, gave the customers a glimpse of what the clothing would look like by creating a 3-D image and the perfect opportunity to see how an outfit looks and feels” (Funding, 2004). This imaging allows the consumers to have a close up look of how an outfit would look especially on them. The reaction to this imaging from the consumer had a very positive effect. According to Kurt Peters that any consumer that tried the new 3-D imaging of online clothes fitting technology would receive a coupon for in store use. This coupon increased sales purchases 233%, and on-line purchases 66% higher (Peters, 2001).

Customers that did use the new mobile apps were allowed to find what they wanted quickly and where able to find answers to any questions without a lot of hassle. According to Jonathan Lacoste, “regardless of the reason, if it was part of a wish list, or looking for a very special item, the consumer was able to receive recommendations for what they should wear with it” (Lacoste, 2016). The consumer would have information at their fingertips explaining the item. This app was also used to make the checkout process quick and easy that possesses the company credit card. The mobile app allowed the consumers to find other objects, do shopping, make credit card payments, and also have access to any coupons and special offers. The drawbacks are the user friendliness of the phones; however Lane Bryant is in the process of listening carefully to its customers, and coming up with a correction to the multiple problems and issues with the app, since it is a fairly new addition.

Ethics

Employees at Lane Bryant Inc are their most important asset and the company cares about each team member who works for them. They also expect any third party that work with the company to give their employees the same care. Lane Bryant Inc. along with their affiliates makes a effort to insure that the products that are produced are done in a socially responsible manner. By going further, Lane Bryant makes sure that “all our product vendors are bound by contracts to abide by all applicable employment and human rights laws, and the companies “Code of Conduct”, which emphasizes the importance of well-treated, fairly compensated workers. In addition Lane Bryant has a monitoring and compliance program” (Monitoring Program), which seeks to promote the maintenance of quality and safety standards in our manufacturing facilities and compliance with our Code of Conduct” (Lane Bryant, 2015). The corporation constantly monitors the supply chain for any risks to the industry or location and activates their own Monitory Program investigations. The monitoring Program includes “Vendor/Factory Certification Agreements, Verification of Supply Chain and Auditing of the Suppliers, Accountability/Vendor Non-Compliance, and Training (Lane Bryant, 2015).

Diversity

Lane Bryant is not only very appealing, but also a very gratifying organization to be a part of. Employees enjoy going to work every day and being able to help an individual fell like a “VIP”, and leave the store with a happy smile on their faces. So often a woman will go into a store not looking for a pleasant experience especially in the clothing industry. The customer is convinced that they are not going to find anything that they can wear that looks idea on them. The sales personnel at Lane Bryant Inc. are trained to help the consumer to find just that ideal fit. Regardless of what the consumer is looking for whether it be under garments or a business suit, the employees listen to what the customer are saying and reacting to the item. By listening carefully to what the customer is vocalizing the associate can tell exactly what to help the consumer pick out and what the store has to offer them. All of the associates carry with them a tape measure to insure the customer is obtaining the correct outfit along with the correct size. In this way the customer able to get the proper fitting size, along with the choices of garments, and are given an explanation of the different styles available to them. Work out clothing discussions would entail exactly what the physical activity the consumer will be using the clothing for. One thing will be how comfortable the item is to wear. Our associates are passionate about how to respect our customers at Lane Bryant Inc.

Recruiting employees for Lane Bryant is made through the company’s website, social media accounts and word of mouth. Job openings are posted not only on the company website, but also on such sites such as Careerbuilder.com, Careerbliss.com, and Indeed.com. On these sites the job descriptions make it clear exactly what Lane Bryant is looking for and that is a passion for fashion and sales positions are all about the product, the placement, and the customer (Indeed.com (2016). The job openings are also listed on LinkedIn.com, where there are employees on the site to offer any assistance with any questions. Employees are also recruited simply by word of mouth, loyal customers see the passion of the team members and the level of commitment to help customers and become interested in working someplace where they can make a difference to someone.

The demographics of Lane Bryant’s team base is mainly women; however there are many males that also work for the company. Looking at the career page on the company video the team base is diverse in the roles that the individuals fulfill (Lane Bryant, 2016). This video also shows men as sales associates, team members of every size and ethnicity.

Finance

The Lane Bryant Inc. is owned and operated by Ascena Retail Group, that do own many other clothing companies that include Ann Incorporated the and the Loft are owned and operated by Ann Taylor, Maurices Incorporated, Catherines Incorporated, along with the Dress Barn are all owned by Ascena. All of the above stores do sell the women's plus size garments deal with the women’s plus size or have a special section in the stores that are devoted to just the plus size line.

The fiscal year for the parent company Ascena Retail Group begins and ends in July. Lane Bryant's net sales have been increasing over the last several years past. In 2015 they were $1,080 million, in 2016 they were $1,095.9 million, and in 2017 they were $1,130.3 million. The sales figures shown above are somewhat smaller in comparison to what could be Lane Bryant’s potential were expected to be. Linsey Carman commented that Plus-size women sizes sales were up 17% since the year 2013, making the new business worth of Lane Bryant $20 billion today” (Carman, 2017). Even with these figures there is still room for growth in expansion and sales. Carman also stated “for the past years, plus-size apparel sales have exceeded total women’s clothing sales (Carman, 2017). Lane Bryant Incorporated would still need to take full advantage of any of these opportunities to capitalize when it comes to gaining more of the market shares.

Looking at Lane Bryant's operating income is bouncing back after showing a loss of $308 million in 2015. In 2016 they did show a gain of $20.6 million. The operating income losses of $308 million was due to the result of Lane Bryant Inc. of their goodwill and intangible assets being marked down to fair values. With this reduction in net income meant that Lane Bryant stores were well overvalued, however, over time they should regain all of the value back with the global expansions.

Lane Bryant has been increasing in the number of stores it is operating. In 2016 the number of stores went up to 7, and in 2015 there was a net loss of 5. With consideration that the sales growth of each pf the stores would depend on the quality of the products availability when they were being offered. Using the most effective method of advertising has brought an increase in consumers from around the world and will help to increase the share of the market.

Weakness

Marketing

Brian Beilter, the chief marketing officer for Lane Bryant, with 20 years of experience in marketing field has worked with leading brands, and brings these challenges to marketing a retail company. Retailing is especially a rapidly moving section for any organization. According to Jonathan Lacoste, in advertising if you just happen to make a few missteps, your consumers just walk a few doors down the mall to a new store, and making good changes can change the tide to bring consumers back to the store. This is a tremendous opportunity and challenge” (Lacoste, 2017). The retail view of a business has changed and requires the attention of the consumers to be more spread out. Lacoste also states other challenges, particularly in malls, are the locations have changed with the world wide web and eCommerce. Customers have to moved to using the web even more (Lacoste, 2017). These trends most have responses that have to be made in a reasonable amount of time. The manufacture of apparel and fashion industries has been reworked to deal with the fast moving society (Lacoste, 2017).

Location

Foreign customers of Lane Bryant Inc can purchase goods but only online, since they do not have any store locations internally for them to browse the merchandise in person. Many of their customers want to be able to actually see the garments, they want to touch the fabric and check the clothing to make sure that there are no defects such as broken zippers, or lose threads. A consumer survey that was taken in 2015 reveals, according to Carl Brooks, that nearly 40 percent of patrons would purchase inside a store at least once a week, compared to just 27 percent that purchase online (Brooks, 2015). Without the experience of sales personnel available it leaves the consumer guessing whether or not they will enjoy the purchasing, and if the correct size; also many foreign countries have to conservative with the American sizes and not the international or European sizing. There are other factors that draw patrons into stores, Brooks estimates that 65 percent of customers said like to shop inside of store to avoid the delivery fees, while more than 60 percent said it allows them to have the item immediately. Also, 61 percent like trying on the item before making a purchase (Brooks, 2015).

Purchasing of a garment should not be associated with any guess work at all. However, There is when buying items on-line the consumer is taking the risk that they will have to return the item for many reasons. There are also additional fees that may be associated with returning items at the customer’s expense, which places Lane Bryant Inc. at risk of losing customers. These cost do not end here, Lane Bryant Inc. then incurs the processing cost of the return that includes examining the item for any defects before the item or items are ready to be returned to inventory for reselling.

Finance

Ascena Retail Group, Inc. placed themselves in the position of acquiring a huge amount of debt with the purchase of Ann Taylors and Lofts. The purchasing according to Ascena was a cumulative price of $2.1 billion. The purchasing price consisted of approximately $1.75 billion in cash only and the issuance of 31.2 million in common shares of the company’s stocks valued at approximately $345 million. The cash amount was funded through borrowing of just under a $1.8 billion over a period of seven years, the variable rate of the term …