After the Recession, What Will Execs Do First?

Once the recession ends, top apparel executives believe re-invigorating their brands will be their main priority.

with contributions from Marc Karimzadeh, Julee Kaplan
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Haresh Tharani, ceo, Tharanco Group
“Quite candidly, the last year and a half we’ve been running our business pretty much the same, and really focusing on design. We’re really focusing on making sure our marketing, sales and design work collectively to understand the consumer. It’s working quite well for us. We don’t expect to change that. We’re looking at what Twitter can do at the company, and how can social networking sites helps sales. Poleci is using Twitter. We’re putting more money in sales, in both people and resources.”

Robert Siegel, ceo, Lacoste USA
“My first act will be to gather our teams in our headquarters and celebrate with one of France’s best Champagnes. Like many other companies we have learned to live with less, so we will continue to operate as we have been doing. Despite some positive moves in the stock market, we are all waiting for the consumer to have confidence to go out and shop again. The retail game has changed, as has the consumer’s appetite, so we are going to carefully monitor our customers’ shopping patterns. We are all hopeful that price promoting will become less of a factor in customers’ decisions, but my hunch is the consumer is not going to say, ‘OK, the recession is over, no more bargain hunting for me.’ This market has conditioned the shopper to wait for sales and it will take a well-disciplined brand/store to structure a well-balanced mix of full price and sale price.”

Jill Granoff, ceo, Kenneth Cole Productions

“We look forward to doing many things once the recession is over, but one of the top priorities is to thank our team for their incredibly hard work during this challenging time. We are in the process of launching a pay-for-performance program and intend to restore merit increases and the 401K match when the economy picks up and we meet our financial targets. At the end of the day, it’s about the people.”

Michael Kramer, president and ceo, Kellwood Co.
“Over the last 12 months... we’ve shifted operations to our City of Industry [Calif.] facility and built an in-house design studio to manage all digital initiatives in-house that were previously managed externally. We will capitalize on this by launching e-commerce sites for brands such as David Meister, XOXO and Jolt. Once the recession is over, Kellwood will take advantage of those cost-saving investments and continue to build our brands and a business that provides the company with significant levels of financial upside without incurring the fixed costs associated with growth. For example, Vince will be opening nine additional retail stores domestically in the coming months and will look towards international expansion in 2010.”

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