Monday, March 06, 2006

Struggling Wilsons Set For A Makeover

New York Post

Wilsons Leather, the mall retail chain struggling to grow its business in the face of stiff competition from big box retailers, will change from its price-promotional strategy to a more upscale product line.

Prices will increase by as much as 30 percent and the chain will introduce accessories-only mall stores, Michael Searles, Wilsons' CEO said in a conference call last week.

Wilsons, which currently has 422 stores, reported net sales fell 9.8 percent last year.

Searles said Wilsons will work to make its store more attractive, with smaller signs and new fixtures, and easier to shop by reducing the numbers of items on the floor.

Five new accessories stores, featuring more upscale handbags, are expected to open by fall. The accessories stores will operate under a different, yet undisclosed, name.

The change in strategy will take years to take root and the results may not be seen in the financial results of 2006, Searles said.

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