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Liz Claiborne's deal with J.C. Penney changes your Macy's trip

The Liz Claiborne Fall 2009 Collection, at the company’s Manhattan showroom.

Associated Press

The Liz Claiborne Fall 2009 Collection, at the company’s Manhattan showroom.

JCPenney starting next fall, but that's only part of the story.

As a result, this Christmas will be the last season that one of the most popular mainstream women's brands of the past 20 years will be stocked at department stores like Macy's, Dillard's and Belk.

"Claiborne has been a poor seller for some time," said Jim Sluzewski, spokesman for Macy's. "We think we have several other brands like Rachel Roy and Tommy Hilfiger and our own labels that can take its place."

Claiborne, however, says it's making the move because Penney has been a stronger marketer of the Claiborne brands, which have been losing money in the forest of brands sold in traditional department stores.

"People once would have been shocked to hear GM was in bankruptcy, too," said William McComb, chief executive of Liz Claiborne Inc. "This is really about following our customer and winning with the winners."

J.C. Penney Co.'s 10-year exclusive deal includes an option for the moderately priced retailer to take ownership of the brand in five years. Penney already was the only chain carrying Liz & Co. and Concepts by Claiborne. Claiborne thinks it can become a $1 billion brand at JCPenney stores.

Liz Claiborne Inc. will continue to supply Macy's and other department stores with its other big brands: Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand, DKNY Jeans, Kate Spade and Kensie. The only place other than JCPenney in the United States to stock a Claiborne brand will be TV shopping network QVC, which carries Liz Claiborne New York, designed by Isaac Mizrahi.

Claiborne also will shift the merchandise in its 93 factory outlet stores to the Liz Claiborne New York line from Mizrahi, but use those stores to help get rid of the holiday leftovers through the winter.

There will be no change in its Dana Buchman line, which is sold only at Kohl's.

Meanwhile, QVC rival HSN has deals with designer Naeem Khan for her Timeless line and the luxe apparel team of Mark Badgley and James Mischka for a line of sportswear, jewelry and shoes priced from $39 to $400 that debuts in November.

Such appearances are more evidence that HSN chief executive Mindy Grossman has turned "what was once a dumping ground for celebrity jewelry lines (into) a destination for legitimate designers," wrote Amy Odell in New York magazine's fashion blog.

• • •

Jim Donald, the Tampa native and onetime Clearwater Albertsons store manager who last year was ousted as chief executive of Starbucks Corp., landed a new job last week.

Donald took over as chief executive of Haggen, a family owned chain of 33 supermarkets based in Bellingham, Wash.

• • •

In sales lexicon, the moment of truth is when a shopper decides whether to buy something or start walking. But in online retailing, it is truly becoming a moment.

A new Forrester Consulting survey confirms the need for speed: 47 percent of online shoppers today expect a retailing site to fully load in 2 seconds.

That's down from 4 seconds in 2006.

And 40 percent said they abandon sites that have not loaded within 2 seconds.

• • •

Witch, vampire, princess, pumpkin and devil again top the list of the most common costumes people plan to wear for Halloween, reports an annual survey from the National Retail Federation.

"The departure of both nurses and politicians from the (top 10) list this year could be an indication Americans would like to shelve the health care reform debate — at least for one night," joked Tracy Mullin, president of the retail trade group that has fought the health care public option and employer mandates.

Mark Albright can be reached at or (727) 893-8252.

. The Claiborne deal

J.C. Penney Co. will be the sole U.S. department store chain to sell the company's Liz Claiborne and Claiborne lines of women's wear, along with its Liz & Co. and Concepts by Claiborne brands. The deal includes accessories, shoes, household products and men's clothing, as well as women's. The lines will debut next fall.

. The numbers

1976: Year dress designer Liz Claiborne helped launch Liz Claiborne Inc. In 1985, Liz Claiborne Inc. became the first Fortune 500 company founded by a woman. Claiborne retired in 1989.

28 percent: Amount of Liz Claiborne Inc.'s revenue that comes from the Liz Claiborne brands that will be sold through JCPenney stores and QVC.

29 percent: Amount the company's overall sales, including the luxury brands Juicy Couture and Kate Spade, slipped in the second quarter, to $963.4 million from $683.8 million.

28 percent: Amount that Liz Claiborne shares rose Thursday on news of the deal; J.C. Penney and Macy's shares also rose.

Sources: Associated Press, Liz Claiborne Inc.

Liz Claiborne's deal with J.C. Penney changes your Macy's trip 10/12/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 1:34pm]
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