Bebe drops party-girl image

Bebe (NASDAQ:BEBE) is revamping its image to appeal to a more serious customer, moving away from the party-girl image. The repositioning of the women's apparel chain is part of CEO Jim Wiggett's agenda, who took control of the company in December.

Bebe is ditching the party-girl styles and going for more dressy casual and business chic lines, Women's Wear Daily reported. The brand will also feature Bebe Sport and apparel with logos, aiming to be more fashion-forward. In essence, the brand will still target women between the ages of 20 and 40 who like to dress sexy.

"When I came to the company a year ago, within weeks the company reported a significant loss for the fiscal year. The company was losing $4.5 million a month," Wiggett told Women's Wear Daily. Therefore, Wiggett had to made big decisions, such as taking out $30 million from operations and separating the product lines: the core Bebe assortment and the lower-end line.

In another change, the store went from changing the collection every 12 months to every eight months, and in a way that the merchandise could flow incrementally every two weeks. Plus the company had to turn down the heavy discounting and constant promotions.

One advantage is that Bebe has the cash to fund the turnaround. The company also carries no debt on its balance sheet.

Bebe is currently in 25 countries with 10 partnerships and looking to expand internationally. The outlet business is thriving with prices 30 to 40 percent lower than they might have sold at a regular Bebe, and 65 percent of product is made for this business.

The company also wants to grow wholesale and expand partnerships. For example, last month Bebe joined a growing list of brands and retailers on the online shopping service site ShopRunner.

For more:
-See this Women's Wear Daily article (subscription)

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