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ICRX Report: Mickey Drexler says consumers will pay for quality

By Diana McCabe
January 14, 2009 12:45 PM

"It is what it is." That's what Mickey Drexler, CEO of J. Crew and retailing wizard, said over and over again today at the ICR XChange morning session in Dana Point.

Drexler, known as savvy retailing strategist, said the current retail environment is probably "the most severe most of us in this room have ever seen" but that's no reason to not move forward. "We are not waiting," Drexler said. J. Crew will focus on vision, execution, attention to detail and "micro-manage the hell out of our businesses."

Here are some moves that Drexler said J. Crew is making to weather 2009:

  • Adjust inventory and cost structure to the "new normal"
  • Slow growth of J. Crew stores by about 50%.
  • Maintain Madewell growth plan, opening 10 to 15 stores and launching an online store in July.
  • Plans to open Engaged - a bridal shop on Manhattan's Upper East Side
  • Remain centered on building our business and brand. ("This is not a year to grab that extra sale," Drexler says.)
  • Focus on customer service ("Call and we'll be there 24/7".)

On consumers, who Drexler says will pay for quality:

Give consumers the luxury they want at affordable prices. So ballet flats are priced at $98, down from $118. They are still made in Italy but will compete with other designer labels priced at $500.

"We are on a mission not to have high prices," Drexler says. The J. Crew Victoria shirts run $78 to $98. Drexler says that's quality and not at Madison Avenue prices of $500 for the same good at a competitor's.

 

 

 

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