Women's Wear Daily

Talks Trump Cocktails as Retailers Seek to Engage, Educate

Skip the Champagne — and focus on bubbly discourse instead. That’s the latest tactic from brands and stores looking to lure customers with events featuring speakers, workshops, panel discussions and fireside chats. Think of it as retail meets Ted Talks. Celebrity appearances, designer meet-and-greets and cocktail parties — old standards in the retail playbook — have grown tired and simply don’t have enough substance for Millennials, who crave authenticity and experiences. Content has become today’s currency, with brands showing off their literary sides, sharing expertise and ideas, and giving consumers something to think about. Many retailers focus on female-friendly issues such as women’s empowerment and mentorship. Other brands host seminars about the finer points of products’ attributes or offer an in-depth look at skilled master craftsmen. With an emphasis on entertainment rather than pedantry, the talks generally avoid becoming a snooze-fest. Club Monaco took a chance that consumers would respond to poetry. After Yrsa Daley-Ward read some of her brief and revelatory epigrams last month at the brand’s Fifth Avenue flagship, executives let out a sigh of relief. “People forget that they love poetry,” said Francis Pierrel, Club Monaco’s chief executive officer. “We wanted to put a fresh spin on it. Yrsa’s irreverence made her a

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J.C. Penney’s Latest Challenge: CEO to Exit

There’s a leadership issue at J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and it’s put the retailer’s turnaround efforts in jeopardy. On Tuesday, J.C. Penney disclosed that Marvin Ellison, its chief executive officer for the last three years, is joining Lowe’s as ceo on June 1, taking the job at the Mooresville, N.C.-based home improvement chain formerly held by Robert Niblock. Last November, the retailer fired its chief merchant John Tighe — he’s now president of Peerless Clothing — and in February it named Joe McFarland executive vice president and chief customer officer, a role that includes responsibility for merchandising as well as leading store operations. At the same time, Jodie Johnson was named head of merchandising for women’s, beauty and family footwear, and James Starke was promoted to head of merchandising for men’s, children’s, home and jewelry, both reporting to McFarland. Marvin Ellison  Sources said J.C. Penney needs to find a ceo with merchant experience, possibly from the department store or discount store sectors, specifically with skills in soft lines — which has been a weak spot for Penney’s. Apparel improvements are critical for the store’s long-term survival. The consensus is that J.C. Penney will most likely tap someone from outside the company to be its

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Eric Fisch Named Head of Retail and Apparel, Commercial Banking at HSBC

Eric Fisch has been named head of retail and apparel for the commercial banking division of HSBC. Originally based in New York, Fisch moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to develop HSBC’s West Coast presence in the apparel sector. Over the past five years, he has helped build out the bank’s sizable apparel financing business, including onboarding several global e-commerce apparel retailers and treasure platforms spanning multiple countries. In his new role, Fisch will have national coverage of one of the largest sectors within the HSBC corporate bank. HSBC is best known for its knowledge of seasonal businesses within apparel, such as the swimwear and outerwear sectors. Looking ahead to the changes on the retail landscape and how they have impacted analytics and lending criteria, Fisch said: “As more of the apparel industry shifts to direct-to-consumer, HSBC has evolved the way we lend and evaluate creditworthiness of e-commerce companies. These companies have access to unprecedented data on consumer purchases, and we have taken some of this consolidated data to underwrite and monitor lending. Understanding customer acquisition costs, conversion rates and cohort analysis of lifetime value are examples of analytical tools unavailable to traditional retailers or wholesalers.” The banker explained that the tools allow HSBC

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