Neiman Tests Upper-Moderate Concept
By Tom Ryan
Neiman Marcus is testing an upper-moderate concept aimed at more
value-seeking shoppers in suburban areas and even strip malls. Called Last
Call Studio, the concept won’t carry any clearance merchandise or product sold
at the Neiman Marcus chain.
Instead, the concept will carry lower-end products,
bought directly from vendors. The store will carry contemporary brands such
as Lafayette 148, J Brand, Seven for all Mankind and Vince in an environment
that is a hybrid of a boutique and an outlet. With emphasis on apparel, handbags
and shoes, some upscale touches include track lighting, concrete floors with
color-blocked area rugs and cohesive merchandise groupings, according to statement
by one of Neiman’s landlords.
According to a profile in The New York Times, with
lean inventories across retail, it’s become tougher to stock outlet stores
with liquidated merchandise. Moreover, buying direct should lead to dependable
offerings for consumers at Studio rather than the treasure hunt mix found in outlets.
“We’ll have more continuity in the product we’ll offer,” Tom
Lind, senior vice president and managing director for Last Call, told the Times. “If
boots are the trend of the season, she’s going to be looking for a great
boot selection, so we’ll want to have more than what we can rely on from
Neiman officials have been working on the concept for five
years, but decided to launch it because the more upper-moderate area has seen
some strength during the recession. Wanda Gierhart, Neiman’s chief marketing
officer, told the newspaper that Studio is aimed at the shopper who “may
not have the reach level to buy the fine apparel that Neiman Marcus offers.”
The Times article
noted that a prototype of the Studio store in Dallas looks more like a career-wear
store, such as Ann Taylor or a Chico’s. New
merchandise shipments are also being planned weekly and management believes
many Studio shoppers will come almost every week versus the three to five times
a year a typical shopper visits its outlet stores. Other stores will be open
in Rockville, MD and Paramus, NJ in November.
“We want to create more trips and have faster turns, so we’re
going to go to the neighborhood where she lives,” Ms. Gierhart said.
Discussion Questions: What do you think of the Last Call Studio concept
and the prospects for the upper-moderate market? Is this an incremental business
opportunity for Neiman Marcus or a divergence that will dilute its flagship
- Neiman Marcus to Open New Bargain Outlets – The New York Times
- Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio to Open Fall 2010 at Congressional Plaza – Federal