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Digging deeper into The Buckle part II

By Tiffany Montgomery
June 17, 2008 6:27 AM

I am obsessed with The Buckle.

Nearly every other retailer in America is struggling because of the economic slowdown. Somehow, The Buckle continues to not only do well, but to kill it. The Nebraska-based chain reported 20-to-35 percent comp increases in March, April and May. It also had a terrific holiday season which was dismal for so many other retailers.

One differentiation could be The Buckle's denim business. PacSun CEO Sally Frame Kasaks mentioned during an investor conference last week that she believes denim is leading to robust sales at The Buckle. I kept thinking about what she said, and decided to poke around a little to find out more.

I didn't have to look far. The Buckle's 2007 annual report provides lots of information about its denim business.

"Denim remains the cornerstone of our business, representing approximately 43% of net sales this past year. Due to the depth of our merchandise and our teammates' extensive product knowledge, we've established a reputation for excellence in this category. As a result, our guests know that Buckle is where they can find their favorite jeans in the latest fits, styles, and finishes. Whether

it's an exclusive pocket design, updated hardware, or special stitching, they can always choose from a wide selection of great-?tting jeans that reflect their personal style."

Here's some telling data from the report that shows how denim sales at The Buckle have increased over the years:

2003 - $153 million

2004 - $189 million

2005 - $214 million

2006 - $236 million

2007 - $267 million

That's a 75 percent jump in denim sales from 2003 to 2007.

In the past year, PacSun has also focused on denim. The chain has had great success with its in-house Bullhead denim brand, which has driven big apparel sales increases for juniors.

For back-to-school, PacSun is expanding fits, washes and styles for young men's as well.

Here's more about The Buckle's private label denim brand and how The Buckle mixes denim with the rest of its merchandise, according to its annual report.

"Making up 41% of total denim sales, our private label brand, BKE, serves as the foundation of our denim collection, which also includes offerings from brands such as Lucky, Big Star, Silver, MEK, and Guess. Known for its quality, fits, premium fabrics, unique details, and compelling value, BKE has become a popular brand with guests of all ages. To help our guests complete the look, we complement our denim with apparel, accessories, and footwear from leading lifestyle brands such as Hurley, Affliction, Sinful, Billabong, Quiksilver, Roxy, and Fossil."

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