Caché sells fashions -- from ball gowns to blue jeans -- that bring cachet to the soirée. The upscale women's apparel retailer owns and operates about 280 specialty stores in shopping malls in 40-plus US states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands under the Caché and Caché Luxe banners, as well as an online shopping site. Sportswear, including casual wear, collections, and separates, accounts for more than 55% of apparel sales. The retailer courts women ages 25 to 45 with its own brand of apparel and accessories in a boutique-like atmosphere. (Stores average about 2,000 square feet.) The firm buys its merchandise primarily from domestic suppliers, but it has begun to source more overseas.
Cache's sales declined by about 6% in 2010 vs. the previous year and the company lost money for the third year in a row. Same-store sales declined by more than 2%, after plunging 18% in 2009. While not a great year for the women's apparel retailer, it beat 2009 when sales fell more than 17% is vs. 2008. The company has shuttered about 15 stores since 2007 and no new stores are planned for 2011.
Stung by declining sales in recent years as the deep recession led to a decline in mall traffic, Cache in mid-2009 began making changes to its apparel design, merchandising, and production activities. The firm discontinued its wholesale division and hired several new top managers in a bid to turn its business around. (Recent hires include a new EVP, General Merchandise Manager and a SVP of Design.)
The chain has also been closing stores, including its money-losing Lillie Rubin shops that targeted older women with more formal apparel, and more recently some of its Caché and Caché Luxe shops. The women's apparel retailer is relying less on its Luxe shops, which are located in malls that already house a Caché store, as it moves to become more everyday oriented by reducing its eveningwear inventory and growing its denim, T-shirt, and sportswear lines. Launched in 2006, the Luxe concept suffered from poor timing as demand for higher-end apparel fell along with the economy.
A spat with one of its rivals in women's apparel, Chico's FAS, was resolved in September 2010 when Chico's withdrew its motion for a preliminary injunction against Caché. Previously Chico's, which owns the WhiteHouse/BlackMarket chain of mall-based women's apparel stores, accused Caché of hiring former Chico's employees and thereby stealing confidential information and trade secrets. Cache's EVP, General Merchandise Manager (hired in January 2010) came from WhiteHouse/Black Market.
Investment firm MFP Partners owns about 16% of Caché's shares. Director Andrew Saul and his affiliates own about 14%. – less
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