>Retail Observations from Roulston’s Consumer Expert

February 25, 2010

>Arnie Cohen, the former COO of J.Crew, and one of our experts in the consumer vertical, has shared his observations on a number of retailers. Arnie continues to like Steve Madden. He believes the company is very much in tune with its customer. ANF is still a disaster, their stores and clothes remain irrelevant, loud and “smelly”. Coach is problematic, and while their business overseas is gaining, the US operations are troubled. Arnie notes that if the brand is not “cool” in the US, it will stop being cool overseas. While Bath and Body appears to be OK, Arnie is less enthused bout Victoria’s Secret, saying they’re having supply issues and have lost their edge on Pink. Williams Sonoma is making positive comments, but Arnie is not buying their optimism. He continues to like URBN and J. Crew, with the latter having the best stores in the mall, in his opinion. Customers like J.Crew and the company’s successful marketing strategy is making Crew a hip place to be. Arnie is watching Bebe closely for signs of a turnaround and wants to give it till spring/summer. Chico’s is improving, but has ways to go yet. Coldwater Creek, in his view, is done and not coming back. He mentions that Macy’s, Nordstrom. J. Crew and maybe Saks are gaining from a void in the women’s segment.

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