Virtually all of us are rooting for the major retailers to turn things around and have increasing profits again for a host of reasons including gainful employment for their employees and protecting the wonderful memories that so many of them have provided for us over the years, especially during the holiday season.
The recent news is not great but hope does spring eternal.
You never want to read a story and headline that says Montgomery Ward is the name of two historically distinct American retail enterprises. It can refer either to the defunct mail order and department store retailer, which operated between 1872 and 2001, or to the current catalog and online retailer also known as Wards.
For many of the mature set, we have wonderful memories of shopping at Wards.
This storyline is not much better. At entrepreneur.com they sigh, “How is it that we have come to live in a world where esteemed companies like Sears and Macy’s, once synonymous with "retail," are closing countless locations just to stay in business, while Amazon, the pioneering patriarch of ecommerce, is spending money to open storefront shops?”
On Jan 11, 2018 at marketwatch.com they announced, “Macy’s Inc. has laid off 436 workers after closing three California stores, in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Laguna Hills. Macy’s revealed details on the 11 stores slated to close in the early portion of 2018, including four closures that were previously announced.”
On January 10, 2018 cnbc.com reported, “To be sure, none of this covers up the fact Sears had a dismal holiday season. Overall same-store sales dropped 16 to 17 percent for the first two months of the fourth quarter.
The company now expects to book a fourth-quarter adjusted loss of $10 million to $70 million, compared with a loss of $61 million a year ago. A net loss attributable to Sears Holdings' shareholders should range from $200 million to $320 million in the fourth quarter, Sears said, compared with a net loss of $607 million during the same period in 2016.”
On January 10, 2018 the investment site fool.com printed, “J.C. Penney had a mixed third quarter. The company saw its losses go from $67 million last year to $128 million in 2017. On the positive side, however, comparable-store sales did increase by 1.8% in the quarter. In addition, much of the increased loss can be explained by the company making a decision to sell off merchandise at heavy discounts as part of a strategy to change its inventory mix.”
There are several articles by other investment and finance groups who have so many suggestions on how these cherished retailers can turn things around but if it were that easy they probably would have applied all of them already.
One major retailer that does seem to be bucking the trend…..barely, is Vera Bradley.
Vera Bradley is the name of an American luggage and handbag design company, founded by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia Miller in 1982. The Fort Wayne, Indiana company produces a variety of products, including handbags, luggage, and accessories. It is most recognized for its patterned bags.
Vera Bradley also offers many other items including rolling luggage, luggage tags, wallets, cosmetic cases, wrist accessories, umbrellas, accessories, beach towels and bags, and gifts.
And now for the news.
On December 15, 2017 economicsandmoney.com reports, “Vera Bradley, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRA) operates in the Textile – Apparel Footwear & Accessories segment of the Consumer Goods sector. The company has grown sales at a 1.10% annual rate over the past five years, putting it in the low growth category.”
On January 1, 2018 bangaloreweekly.com printed, “According to Zacks, analysts expect that Vera Bradley will report full year sales of $97.29 million for the current financial year, with estimates ranging from $467.9 million to $471 million.”
We take good retail news anyway that we can get it.
Let’s get a closer look at Vera Bradley.
At their gorgeous site they share, “The best stories have the most unexpected beginnings - $500, a ping pong table as a work space, and a bright idea in 1982 has turned into a global success. First neighbors, then friends turned founders Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller were disappointed at the absence of beautiful luggage in airports and decided to create their own. Their friendship and desire to bring beauty to the world continue to remain at the heart of the company.
Model, mother, hostess and friend. Vera Bradley was the mother of Barbara Baekgaard and even worked for the company, as a sales representative in south Florida, until she died in the early 1990s. She was an exceptional woman and continues to be a point of inspiration for the company. Vera Bradley stores continue to honor her by celebrating her birthday every year.
At its very core, Vera Bradley is an innovative brand for women. We’ve always been inspired by the needs of real women, and our proudest moments have been when we can bring communities of women together through their shared love of beauty.
We specialize in bags, fragrance, luggage, and accessories - and are continuing to offer new and exciting products to our consumers. Our products offer beautiful solutions that add brightness and fun wherever you carry them.”
That’s a very impressive story. Their success no doubt speaks to their values. As impressive as their story is, even more impressive are their values.
They speak to those values. “Here at Vera Bradley, we believe that beauty is to be celebrated in all we do. We look for Associates who are excited to celebrate alongside us.
We believe in making someone's day by living our values.
Empathy – acting with compassion in our hearts and having an open mind.
We design our products with a deep understanding of our consumer. They are the focus of all we do.
Kindness – caring for everyone we meet like family.
We treat our consumers, coworkers, and partners with utmost care.
Ingenuity – using creativity to solve problems with flair.
We continually strive for artful solutions to solve the real needs in her life.
Tenacity – doing the right thing and keeping a perspective on the bigger picture.
We are a relentless force paving the way for new ways to uplift women.
Thoughtfulness – paying attention and perfecting the details.
We never sacrifice an opportunity to be inviting, warm, and considerate.
Optimism – bringing a light-hearted spirit and fun to every interaction.
We share our bright spirit and good-natured humor through every interaction.”
Finally some very good retail news.
Visiting with Vera Bradley infuses room for optimism.
New wonderful memories to be cherished for years to come are being created.
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OPENING PHOTO CREDIT grapplingstars.com femcompetitor.com writer, verabradley.com photo credit via Design Retail