Nonagenarian Eddie Bauer is looking to the future with a focus on the past. The multichannel retailer operates some 370 stores throughout North America, as well as a catalog and website. The company sells outerwear, apparel, accessories, and gear for men and women with an outdoor lifestyle. It also licenses its brand to merchandise furniture, tools, paint, and Ford vehicles, and has stores in Japan through a joint venture. A descendant of US direct retailer Spiegel, the 90-some-year-old retailer has struggled to find its niche in the crowded apparel market. Predecessor company Eddie Bauer Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in mid-2009 and was sold to investment firm Golden Gate Capital (GGC).
GGC, which has invested in such retailers as Express, J. Jill, and Zales, adopted Eddie Bauer's pre-sale strategy of returning to its outdoor roots to reconnect with consumers. More cost-effective than opening new stores, the company has expanded its brand across the expedition category. It launched the First Ascent line of high-performance ice and snow mountaineering-gear and apparel, including parkas, backpacks, knives, and tents in fall 2009. Harking back to its namesake founder's hunting legacy, it plans to introduce in 2012 the Sport Shop, which sells men's and women's clothing and gear for hunting, fishing, and shooting. Eddie Bauer also retains its presence at the workplace with stylish casual attire, and has expanded its children's apparel offerings.
Licensing agreements for the Eddie Bauer brand provide another growing revenue stream as well as broader distribution for the outdoor outfitter. In 2011 it inked a multi-year licensing agreement with Tandy Brands to use the Eddie Bauer name on tools, and other personal accessories. In addition to supplying Eddie Bauer's stores, catalog, and website business, Tandy sells to other national retail and department outlets. Eddie Bauer's other licensing agreements include Dorel (children's car seats), Valspar (paint) and tea (by Tazo Tea Company, owned by Starbucks). – less