From prom night to the big day itself, David's Bridal begs to make an entrance. The largest retail chain specializing in bridal gowns numbers more than 300 stores in 45 US states, Canada, and Puerto Rico. All gowns are available off the rack and priced from $300 to $1,500 to meet most consumers' budgets. David's Bridal also sells invitations and gifts, veils and other bridal accessories, and apparel for formal occasions, such as church communions and Quinceañeras. Besides its brick-and-mortar locations, David's Bridal operates an online catalog and spotlights the latest trends through Style Council blogs and podcasts. In 2012 the retailer agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
The deal is valued at $1.05 billion, a likely boon for turnaround firms Leonard Green & Partners and TPG Capital, which paid about $750 million for David's Bridal in 2007. Leonard Green is keeping a minority interest worth some $85 million.
Under private equity ownership the chain has gained more than half the market for gowns $600-and-under and polished its image to appeal to more diverse pool of shoppers. To that end, in 2010 it signed an exclusive partnership with Vera Wang for gowns priced under $1,500. David's Bridal also holds exclusive partnerships with The Men's Wearhouse (formalwear) and Shutterfly (photos).
Looking to cater to an increasing number of online wedding planners and shoppers, David's Bridal has turned to its website. The company provides a Style Council online feature, which spotlights industry experts the likes of celebrity stylists and Latina magazine beauty and fashion aficionadas. Its blogs, podcasts, and other online content allow David's Bridal to offer up advice competitive with XO Group (formerly The Knot). In the same space, David's Bridal has an online bridal dress collection to capitalize on the increasing number of gowns purchased through the Internet. David's Bridal offers a Spanish-language website for Latina brides, which also sells Quinceañera gowns and communion dresses for younger customers.
Despite economic woes during the past couple years, David's Bridal has continued to prudently open stores that sell gowns under its own private labels, as well as the licensed Galina, and Oleg Cassini brands. In fall 2011 Leonard Green, however, shut down high-end bridal boutique Priscilla of Boston, which it acquired along with David's Bridal from Federated Department Stores (now Macy's). – less