J.Crew chairman and CEO Millard Drexler knows the clothing retailer has a lot of work to do.
Although the chain known for its timeless American styles has not resorted to massive store closings, it’s struggling like many of its competitors with falling sales and soaring debt.
Where did J.Crew go wrong?
The Wall Street Journal reports that sales at J.Crew stores open at least a year have fallen for 10 straight quarters.
What’s the problem? In an interview with the WSJ, Drexler admits that shoppers were turned off by some clothing in its expensive “J.Crew Collection.”
Few items from the collection remain on the retailer’s website, but one of them is a ruffle skirt for $995.
“We gave a perception of being a higher-priced company than we were — in our catalog, online and in our general presentation,” said Drexler. “Very big mistake.”
As a result, J.Crew announced in April that it was parting ways with its longtime design chief, Jenna Lyons.
With her exit, Drexler said he’s committed to being more competitive on pricing without sacrificing high quality. Prices have already been lowered on about 300 items.
He also told the WSJ he’s expanding the company’s supply base to get new fashions into stores more quickly.
J.Crew isn’t alone in its struggles. With online shopping rising in popularity, consumers want the latest styles immediately and at an affordable price, which is why off-price retailers are thriving.
“We became a little too elitist in our attitude,” Drexler said. “We’re getting back to being who we are—much more comfortable, approachable, democratic and friendly.”
As of April 2017, J.Crew had about 460 retail stores, including factory outlet locations.