How Vince's New CEO Plans to Turn the Brand Around

Sales declined over 20 percent this fall, so he has his work cut out for him.
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Dhani Mau
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Sales declined over 20 percent this fall, so he has his work cut out for him.
Vince's spring 2015 campaign. Photo: Vince

Vince's spring 2015 campaign. Photo: Vince

Back in September, contemporary label Vince announced that its sales had declined for the first time since it initially went public in 2013, and things have gone further downhill from there — as far as the numbers are concerned, at least.

Net sales for the third quarter of this year declined 21.5 percent to $80.9 million from $102.9 million the same period last year. This was due to a major (28.4 percent) decline in wholesale sales — which have been a challenge for Vince for quite some time. Sales in Vince's own stores and e-commerce site increased only 1.3 percent, reflecting a decrease in brick-and-mortar sales offset by stronger online sales. Vince's new CEO Brendan Hoffman, who joined seven weeks ago after the brand's CEO and chief creative officer both left, blamed the low numbers on "continued challenges in the wholesale channel and less traffic in our direct-to-consumer business, along with deeper discounts" in a statement. The company was also forced to lower its outlook for fiscal 2015 due to continuing markdowns and rising administrative costs — the latter partially due to the recent hiring back of Vince's co-founders, Rea Laccone and Christopher LaPolice, as consultants.

That was Hoffman's first big move in his turnaround plan for Vince, which he outlined in greater detail during a conference call on Thursday afternoon. The first priority, he said, is "getting the core product," which he sees as contemporary ladies ready-to-wear, menswear, shoes and handbags, "back on track," which is what Laccone and LaPolice have been tasked with. However, we won't see their work reflected until the fall 2016 collection, with the full impact visible in the fourth quarter of next year. 

Hoffman also wants improve the overall "brand image," which will be done through "strategic marketing efforts" — like collaborations with tastemakers, perhaps? Vince will also relaunch its website next year, and hopes to reduce the frequency of promotions. It's pulling back on its kids business for now, but Hoffman sees expansion into new categories as a good way to grow wholesale distribution in the future.