While some are busy keeping up with the Joneses, The Jones Group (formerly Jones Apparel Group) is too busy taking stock in its own brand portfolio to take notice. The company provides a wide range of clothing, shoes, and accessories for men, women, and juniors. Its brands include Anne Klein, Jones New York, Gloria Vanderbilt, Evan-Picone, and l.e.i., among more than 30 others. Subsidiary JAG Footwear, designs apparel and shoes under the names Easy Spirit, Enzo Angiolini, Bandolino, and Nine West. Through licensing agreements, Jones also supplies Givenchy jewelry, Rachel Roy designer apparel, and Dockers footwear. The firm operates about 900 outlet and specialty stores, as well as branded e-commerce sites.
Following the acquisition of UK-based footwear and accessories firm Kurt Geiger in 2011, The Jones Group reorganized to form six business segments: domestic wholesale sportswear (including such brands as Jones New York, Anne Klein, and Rachel Roy); domestic wholesale jeanswear (Energie, Gloria Vanderbilt, l.e.i.); domestic wholesale footwear and accessories (Joan & David, Nine West, Stuart Weitzman, Mootsies Tootsies); domestic retail (store banners include Jones New York, Nine West, Easy Spirit, and ShoeWoo); international wholesale; and international retail (Kurt Geiger, Stuart Weitzman).
The Jones Group's apparel and accessories are widely available throughout the US at nearly 900 company-operated outlet and specialty shops, as well as concessions inside major department store chains. The company rings up about 15% of its sales overseas. Its international markets include Canada and Europe (France, Italy, Monaco, Spain, the UK and Ireland).
The Jones Group has sewn together two consecutive years of increasing sales: posting a 4% increase in 2011 vs. 2010, on the heels of a 9% jump in 2010 vs. the prior year. Still, the $3.8 billion in sales the company rang up in 2011 is well below the $5-billion-mark reached in 2005. (Prior to 2010, the company struggled with four straight years of falling sales.) Of Jones Group's six business segments, three of the four domestic units posted negative comparisons in 2011 vs. 2010, while the international wholesale and retail segments saw sales increase by 22% and 454%, respectively. The only domestic segment to post a gain was wholesale footwear and accessories, whose sales rose less than 1%, aided by the acquisition of the Stuart Weitzman brand. As a wholesaler of apparel and accessories, Jones Group is heavily dependent on department stores. Indeed, in 2011 department stores accounted for about 50% of its gross revenues, with Macy's (its largest customer) accounting for 19%. While Jones Group has reversed the downward trend in sales that began in 2005, it's still facing an uncertain economy and fluctuating consumer confidence, both of which have caused shoppers to rein in spending. Also, increasing commodity, labor, and transportation cost that, for the most part, the company is unable to pass along to consumers, are constraining profit margins.
The Jones Group has been working to turn its fortunes around by freshening up its mainstay labels, adding new ones (including Brian Atwood, Kurt Geiger, and Stuart Weitzman) that are poised for growth, and marketing exclusive collections through select retailers. It has also been right-sizing its retail footprint and taken other steps to cut costs. In 2011 the company closed 102 underperforming locations and expects to close more in 2012. To boost demand for its offerings, Jones has been inking exclusive brand distribution deals with select retailers. In 2010 it launched the Rachel Roy collection as an exclusive Macy's line and began providing GLO Jeans casualwear exclusively to Kmart. Licensing deals are also key to Jones' business. High-profile licensing agreements include Rachel Roy, Givenchy, and Jessica Simpson brand jeanswear. The Jones Group holds a 50% stake in the Rachel Roy venture, as it continues to invest in the global designer business. – less