Look carefully and then look again. It’s an independent fashion store, right?
The average shopper could be forgiven for thinking that what’s on view is the outcome of short-term buying by a trader who’s decided that now is the right time to branch out into retail.
And up to a point this would be correct. This is Francesca’s Collections, a chain that behaves like an independent and which focuses on short-term buying – meaning that the in-store vista changes constantly.
Aimed at the 18- to 35-year-old woman, this is in fact a 300-strong US chain where the store manager is given a high degree of autonomy and which specialises, in a very deliberate way, on lines running out.
In effect, therefore, a store where WIGIGs are the order of the day and where the visual merchandising, almost in consequence, is casual.
This particular store is in the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, New Jersey. It is reasonably typical of the chain and it also highlights a trend that seems to be gathering strength, where large retailers set up shop in a manner that informs the uninformed that they are looking at an owner-managed enterprise.
By its very nature, the stock split at Francesca’s Collections tends to shift somewhat from time to time, but a breakdown of about 50% clothing, 20% jewellery and the remaining 30% being given to accessories and giftware, is broadly representative.
The short-term set-up is clearly not a modus operandi that could be adopted by all retailers everywhere, but it is working for this retailer – sales increased by 47% in the quarter to July 30 to $51.2m (£32.2m) while profits rose 30% to $12.6m (£7.9m).