Henri Bendel New York
In response to some tough economic circumstances, Henri Bendel‘s parent-company CEO Leslie Wexner has opted to eschew the luxury apparel market in favor of focusing their stores only on accessories, beauty products, and gifts. Bendel‘s is one of the first major luxury retailers to make such a drastic move to improve their business models in the country’s current economic climate, and one has to wonder – will the risk pay off?

I have a bit of a feeling that it might. Personally, when I go into a high-end retailer, I almost never look at ready-to-wear. I head straight to the shoes, handbags, and makeup, and statistics say that I’m not nearly the only one that does exactly that. Those product categories are far and away the most profitable and popular ones at any similar type of retailer (or any luxury brand that makes them, for that matter), largely because they’re the types of products that are accessible to the largest number of customers.

I honestly couldn’t care less if my local Neiman Marcus carried any clothing at all, as long as the keep the bags and shoes front and center. There’s a lot of cost associated with stocking and displaying merchandise that takes up that much space, and if the space can be better filled by things that a larger number of customers would rather look at, then hey, why not? It’s so crazy, it’s logical. What not might be logical quite yet, though, are their plans to increase their total number of locations by 150% (which, in this case, means from 4 to 10) to a number of malls across America – might it not be prudent to sit back and see if the product shift works first?


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