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Ann Taylor: Survival in Specialty Retail

In: Business and Management

Submitted By microfun
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The CASE Journal

Volume 5, Issue 2 (Spring 2009)

Ann Taylor: Survival in Specialty Retail
Pauline Assenza
Manhattanville College
Alan B. Eisner
Lubin School of Business, Pace University
Jerome C. Kuperman
Minnesota State University Moorhead

In the summer of 2008, headlines announced that the declining economy was generating a “wave of retail closures” among many well-known companies, including Home Depot, Pier 1 Imports,
Zales, Gap, Talbots, Lane Bryant, and Ann Taylor. The Chief Executive of J.C. Penney’s called the 2008 situation “the most unpredictable environment in his 39-year retail career”. i One industry group forecasted that nearly 6,000 retail stores would close in 2008, a 25 percent increase from the previous year. A representative from the National Retail Federation (NRF) suggested that these businesses should “look at where they’re underperforming and how can they change their operations so that they have a little bit more power in another area, or a little bit more growth potential.” ii Kay Krill, President and CEO of Ann Taylor Stores Corporation
(ANN), was already considering this advice.
Krill had been appointed President of ANN in late 2004, and succeeded to President/CEO in late
2005 when J. Patrick Spainhour retired after eight years as CEO. At that time, there had been concern among commentators and customers that the Ann Taylor look was getting “stodgy”, and the question was how to “reestablish Ann Taylor as the preeminent brand for beautiful, elegant, and sophisticated occasion dressing”. iii In order to reestablish the brand, Kay Krill had acknowledged the importance of the consumer, since for Ann Taylor to succeed long term,
“enough women still need to dress up for work”. iv
Krill’s challenge was based in the ANN legacy as a women’s specialty clothing retailer. Since
1954, Ann Taylor had been the wardrobe…...

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