Charming Shoppes Inc. is looking to its online channel to boost sales this year. The company is preparing for accelerated growth in e-commerce by soon adding as yet unannounced cross-channel selling tools to further enhance sales and operations, a company spokesperson says.
On another front, Charming Shoppes plans to make a big splash in the outlet channel this summer via Lane Bryant Outlet. It will open around 75 to 80 outlet stores in locations acquired through the assumption of store leases from Retail Brand Alliance, a holding company that owns, among other businesses, the 160-store Brooks Brothers chain. Further, it will continue to build its infrastructure in advance of launching a catalog next year for its Lane Bryant brand.
Charming Shoppes, No. 167 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, is a multi-channel specialty apparel retailer specializing in women’s plus-size apparel. The company hit $48 million in web sales in 2005 compared with $30 million in 2004, according to Internet Retailer estimates. For the first quarter ending April 29, Charming Shoppes projects total company sales between $735 million and $745 million.
In June, Charming Shoppes acquired Crosstown Traders Inc. for approximately $218 million in cash and the assumption of a $40 million debt. Crosstown operates catalog and e-commerce brands that include Arizona Mail Order, Bedford Fair, Willow Ridge, Brownstone Studio, Lew Magram and the Monterey Bay Clothing Co.