Discussing specifics of last year’s performance, Tansky said, “We maximized our full-price selling this year. Our merchant organization maintained a very disciplined buying strategy and we carefully analyzed our promotional events to minimize our markdowns.”
He also said the company reached many milestones this year, including a record $530 in sales per square foot, and expense ratios of 24.7 percent, the best in six years. Internet sales grew over 50 percent last fiscal year, and the Web remains a highly leverageable business model.
The specialty retail division had strong demand across all classifications, but Tansky specifically cited contemporary sportswear, premium denim, short skirts, ponchos, color, handbags, casual footwear, tweed, brooches, designer jewelry, fur “worn in almost every imaginable way” and the return of the suit. Men’s wear has experienced a resurgence. “Color will continue into fall, and I feel certain designers will continue with colors for next spring.”
Inventory of specialty retail was up only 4 percent last fiscal year compared with sales growth of over 11 percent.
Without citing locations, Tansky said that through a new “focus” program, three stores were pumped up with extra advertising, sales associates, mannequins, fixturing and capital. He said Neiman’s was “underpenetrated” as far as attracting its target customers in those three markets and that the focus strategy involved increasing marketing to attract new customers, capital improvements to enhance the store environment and better matching up of associates to customers.
“We gave them a complete overview of what we thought were their needs to maximize opportunities in the markets. We did three stores [last fiscal year] and will add three for the fall, and for spring, there will be another group,” but probably not all 36.
Tansky also cited “focus” categories, including fine apparel, women’s shoes, handbags, contemporary sportswear, beauty and designer jewelry, with merchants adding depth and breadth of inventory.
Bergdorf Goodman, he said, continues to renovate its store, with the fifth floor contemporary area up next.
No Neiman’s openings are slated for this year, but there will be openings for fall 2005 in Boca Raton, Fla., and San Antonio, and in fall 2006, in Charlotte, N.C., and Natick, Mass. Tansky said he sees 2 to 3 percent annual square footage growth over time.