Ailing American retailer J.Crew is to open a chain of value driven stores this month, similar to Gap Inc’s Old Navy, in an attempt to attract alienated customers.
The clothes company has been the subject of huge criticism lately, having increased product price points but seemingly lessened quality, while flagging heavy-handed promotions. Last month J.Crew swung the axe on 175 jobs and senior roles have changed more than once as the brand struggled with falling sales for several consecutive quarters.
The middle-market retailer has missed a trick by going too high end, but hopes to reel customers in with its new budget-friendly label J.Crew Mercantile. The selection is exclusively available through outlet stores and the Factory website at present, and the line’s first dedicated physical store will open in Dallas, Texas later this month. It is expected that stores will roll out nationwide soon.
J.Crew has plans to add 21 factory outlets, which sell off-priced J.Crew clothing, to its current discount store count of 139 so it’s not clear what Mercantile will be able to offer that customers can’t purchase at an outlet. Still, if there’s a man that will be able to pull it off it’s probably J.Crew’s boss Mickey Drexler who’s the man behind Old Navy. He launched the first 40 Old Navy stores and not it trades from over 1,000 locations and has been solidly outpacing Gap for many quarters.