Three of America's biggest groups of retail chains are undergoing revamps right now; and like Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch, J.Crew has yet to see any positive results, at least not on paper. With revenues consistently down, the past two years have been tough for the New York-based company, and it looks like 2016 will be a bummer as well.
For the second quarter, total revenue across all J.Crew-owned brands was down 4 percent to $569.8 million, the company announced Wednesday afternoon. Comparable sales — meaning those in stores open at least a year, decreased 8 percent.
As usual, J.Crew, the brand, bears most of the responsibility for yet another period of decline. Its sales decreased 6 percent, with comp sales down 9 percent.
Meanwhile, Madewell remains the company's shining star, with overall sales up 15 percent and comparable sales up 3 percent. Though even Madewell's growth has slowed somewhat: Comparable sales were up 8 percent in the same period last year, and 17 percent in the same period the year before.
CEO Mickey Drexler blamed a "challenging traffic environment" and said the company is focused on "exciting new merchandising and marketing initiatives that are expected to enhance customer loyalty and extend our brand reach." In addition, he pointed to plans for new "operational initiatives" to improve efficiency.
One of said initiatives that's already been announced is J.Crew's plan to sell through 16 Nordstrom stores beginning later this month. It has also extended Madwell's Nordstrom partnership to 20 more stores since the beginning of the year, and will open 10 more stand-alone Madewell stores before 2017.
J.Crew execs said nothing about product during the company's very brief conference call to discuss these results, so we don't have any more intel regarding the response to the company's decision last year to shift away from a high-fashion look and focus more on classic styles. Also last year, J.Crew fired its head women's designer Tom Mora (who just took on that role at Cole Haan) and hired Madewell's Somsack Sikhounmuong, presumably hoping to capture some of its sister brand's magic.
As Glossy pointed out in a recent article, the Internet's biggest J.Crew fans have been vocal about their criticism of (and advice for) the brand, even spawning the hashtag #ReviveJCrew. Their complaints are mostly around a decline in the quality of the product, and may not be falling on deaf ears. In April, Mickey Drexler announced in a promotional email that he wanted J.Crew customers to email him directly with any and all feedback. (You can reach him at email@example.com.)