Blog: Leonie BarrieGap pleased with progress

Leonie Barrie | 27 February 2012

Despite booking a 40% drop in fourth quarter profit amid higher costs, promotions and lower sales, US specialty retailer Gap Inc claims it is moving in the right direction when it comes to improving its revenues and earnings in the year ahead.

The San Francisco based retailer says boosting its business in North America remains a "top priority" and is planning to invest more to support growth in the region, especially in its products. Another change is to move from geographically based sourcing hubs to category teams for this year's holiday season.

Changes are also underway at department store retailer Sears, which intends to spin off its Hometown and Outlet businesses, and sell 11 stores, after swinging to a full-year loss of $3.1bn. The US retailer hopes to raise US$770m from the moves.

And Hong Kong based fashion retailer Esprit has reassured shareholders that its turnaround plans remain on-track, even though first-half profit slumped 73%. It now proposes to shutter its North American stores rather then sell them, but is not giving up on the region entirely, instead looking to work with a licensing partner there. The firm is also setting up new sourcing offices in Indonesia and India.

Scottish retailer Edinburgh Woollen Mill has won the race to buy collapsed UK discount fashion retailer Peacocks, with the sale protecting 6,000 jobs but also leading to more than 3,100 redundancies. The deal will see the acquisition of 388 Peacocks stores and concessions, but some 224 stores will close.

Sportswear firm Puma has been caught up in a shooting at one of its suppliers' factories in Cambodia. Three female employees at the Kaoway Sports factory were shot as they took part in a demonstration outside the premises for better pay and conditions. And sewing thread and yarn supplier Coats Plc has denied allegations that union leaders were held captive by factory managers at its Bangladesh head office, saying it is keen to negotiate to try to end an illegal strike there.

For garment factories and mills looking for strategies to succeed in a period of industry decline, the advice is to radically alter the way they market their products and focus on core competencies beyond the manufacturing process, according to two new articles on just-style last week.


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