Charming Aims for Plus-Size Growth

Feb 18, 2002

Analysts say Charming Shoppes will be an interesting stock to watch in 2002 as the company uses Lane Bryant, already the biggest brand name in plus-size clothes, to become the dominant specialty plus-size retailer, reports Business Week. Its shares, now around $6, could start climbing if the company can deliver on its strategy of being the best in plus-size clothes. “The recent acquisition of Lane Bryant solidifies their position,” says Todd Cruse, a stock analyst with Spokane (Wash.)-based ICM Asset Management. “The acquisition also provides them with an additional growth vehicle going forward.”

Charming Shoppes (CHRS) bought Lane Bryant from Limited Inc. (LTD ) for $335 million in cash and stock in August. With a combination of Lane Bryant, conservative plus-size chain Catherine’s, and trendier Fashion Bug Plus stores, Charming Shoppes may be just the company to revitalize fashion options for larger women. The market is there, waiting to be tapped. Most American women wear a size 14, on the low end of the plus-size dress chart.

Moderator Comment: How can mass-market retailers increase the business they are doing with plus-size consumers?

With three quarters of the population now said to be out of shape and more than half classified as overweight the niche for plus sizes is quickly becoming the norm. Consider these numbers.

  • The FDA estimates that 50 million Americans will go on a diet this year and spend $30 billion trying to lose weight. Only five percent will succeed in sticking to their diet.

  • It has been estimated that plus-sizes (12 and up for women) represent roughly 30 percent of apparel sales. The National Center for Health Statistics says that the average adult woman is 5’3″ tall and weighs 152 pounds.

What is the strategic approach and some of the tactics a retailer can use to market its business to plus-size consumers? [George
Anderson – Moderator

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