Madewell Continues to Help Out Parent Company J.Crew With Sales Up 39 Percent

The company as a whole saw comparable sales growth for the first time in four years with a J.Crew brand relaunch on the way.
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Photo: Madewell.com

Photo: Madewell.com

Madewell has been outpacing its older sister brand J.Crew in terms of sales growth pretty much since its inception, but in the first quarter of fiscal 2018, it seriously overachieved.

The brand had a record quarter with net sales up 39 percent and comparable sales (meaning those in stores open for at least one year) up 31 percent. That's a huge jump from this time last year, when sales were up (a still-respectable) 11 percent. In its last earnings report, J.Crew announced plans to double down on Madewell by accelerating its expansion, and clearly that's paying off bigtime.

Meanwhile, sales at J.Crew brand continued on their downward trajectory: Net sales decreased 7 percent while comp sales were down 6 percent. Still, that's less of a slump than the one it saw this time last year, when comp sales were down 11 percent.

Overall — and thanks mostly to Madewell — J.Crew Group, Inc. had a reason to celebrate this particular earnings report: Total revenues increased 3 percent while comparable revenue increased 1 percent. Obviously, that's the smallest amount you can even call an increase, but it's still a milestone, as it's the first time the company has seen any comparable sales growth since 2014.

This small victory will buy the company a little more time to execute J.Crew's turnaround plan, which, CEO Jim Brett said in a statement, will culminate in a full "J.Crew brand relaunch" that we'll see in September — "just in time for the most important fall and holiday seasons." Could that also mean the company has something planned for New York Fashion Week, in which it hasn't participated since last February? We'll have to wait and see.

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