I heard lots of companies speak - I'll write updates today on the relevant ones.
I caught the tail end of Mickey Drexler's talk. He's now CEO of J. Crew and formerly the CEO of GAP. He's considered a retailing wizard so I thought I'd pass along a few of his thoughts on operating in this challenging environment.
Someone in the audience listening attentively: Dan Levine, right, the new president of RVCA, who worked with Mickey at The Gap. RVCA also presented in the private company portion of the event yesterday.
Here are some Mickey nuggets:
The slowing economy means "shake out time" in retail, he said. He believes there's too much inventory out there, which drives prices lower. "Less is better," he said.
At J. Crew, he's planning inventory and store growth conservatively in this environment.
The lesson he learns every holiday season: Having too much assortment overwhelms customers. "If you are over assorted, prices get dirty too quickly," he said. It's better to be focused, have friendly prices and be easy to shop. "People need to be led and edited, specially men," he said.
The J.Crew website has a mens only page with a small number of items that has been very successful. "You tell men what to buy, and they buy it."