Mervyns Has Good Start on Remaking Itself
By George Anderson
“If you live to be one hundred, you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age.” – George Burns
While it is still a long way before Mervyns reaches 100 from the day in 2004 when the department store was acquired by a group of investment companies (Sun Capital Partners, Cerberus Capital Management, Lubert-Adler and Klaff Partners), it is beginning to show signs that it might be around for a while.
Under the leadership of retail industry veteran Vanessa Castagna (J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart), the chain has closed underperforming stores and remodeled and upgraded merchandising at remaining locations, according to the East Bay Business Times.
Among the changes at Mervyns have been wider aisles, improved lighting, improved in-store graphics and product displays.
“This is the new Mervyns,” said Ms. Castagna, executive chairwoman of Mervyn’s board of directors. “We want a clean look, with prices easy to see and merchandise selection easily accessible to customers.”
Other changes under Ms. Castagna’s leadership are reminiscent of her experience at J.C. Penney. She has cut back on branded product to include only the most sought-after items and focused on developing a stronger private label identity.
The company, she said, has also “started having store events, which have not been done for a long time.”
Another thing the chain is doing that it hasn’t done for many years is building new stores. Four units, averaging about 80,000 square-feet, are currently planned for sites in Arizona, California and Texas.
The company, said Ms. Castagna, is also “considering a number of sites” for even more new stores.
Moderator’s Comment: How far would you say Mervyns has come in the past two years? What will the chain need to do if it is to build a sustainable business
for the long haul? – George Anderson – Moderator