J. Crew Profit Vaults Ahead

NEW YORK — J. Crew Group Inc. is running strong and bringing its business to new markets.

“It’s been a nice year so far,” Millard “Mickey” Drexler, chairman and chief executive officer, told Zee. “Every day we get a bit smarter about our business, but you can never let your guard down.”

On Wednesday, the company reported a robust second quarter, marked by a return to the black and strong sales and full-price selling across several categories. Executives also cited plans to add more men’s wear stores this year, and divulged the time frame for opening the first J. Crew stores in Europe and Asia, meaning the company is getting close to signing leases. A London store is seen opening in the second half of 2013, and a store in Hong Kong is seen opening in the first half of 2014.

Last year, J. Crew crossed borders for the first time by launching international shipping, partnering with Net-a-porter, and opening a store in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, marking the first brick-and-mortar move in its international expansion plan. Last March J. Crew expanded its international shipping to 107 countries, up from 29, and more recently revealed a plan to distribute to Lane Crawford in Asia.

J. Crew reported net income of $22 million for the second quarter ended July 28, compared with a $10.5 million loss in the year-ago period. Last year’s loss was due to nonrecurring inventory and litigation costs associated with its acquisition by TPG Capital L.P. and Leonard Green & Partners L.P. in March 2011. In the 2011 period, the amortization of inventory from purchase accounting cost the company $22 million, and litigation costs reached $6.5 million.

Total revenues in the latest quarter rose 21 percent to $525.5 million, while comparable company sales increased 14 percent. Gross margin increased to 45.1 percent from 36.5 percent, reflecting healthy full-price selling.

Operating income increased to $62.1 million, compared with $12.3 million in the second quarter of 2011.

Men’s wear, according to the company, increased at a higher rate than women’s last quarter, and executives cited plans to open two more units this year, including a Ludlow shop in Copley Place in Boston on Sept. 18, and a J. Crew men’s shop in The Grove in Los Angeles on Nov. 21, bringing the total to nine men’s units. J. Crew men’s wear, Drexler said, has become “quite well known as a strong franchise. Our Ludlow suit business is a business unto itself, as is our shirt business.” Ludlow is a J. Crew label.

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