Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

LOFT to offer style help

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USA/For the modern professional woman who may have trouble putting together separate pieces of clothing in an interesting way, Ann Taylor LOFT is offering some help.

Its latest effort, called LOFT Style Studio, involves four stylists taking various items from the brand’s fall collection and putting them together in ways that may be unexpected (think faux fur vest on top of a tweed-like jacket or a striped cardigan over a floral dress).  The ensembles will appear in LOFT stores, and various executives promise there will be ways for curious consumers to interact with the stylists and the brand via social networking.

At a party on Wednesday to showcase the idea, LOFT Marketing Director Jill Gabin told Reuters that based on focus groups of prospective LOFT shoppers, the brand found that many women wanted guidance or ideas about how to put outfits together, though there were others who felt they didn’t need it.

And while Gabin admitted that the collection’s target shopper is women aged 25 to 40, she stressed that good style was more about a state of mind than an age.

Check Out Line: Retail earnings optimism

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cash.jpgCheck out things looking a little better in retail?
 
Ann Taylor raised its forecast for first-quarter earnings, citing improved results at its LOFT chain and stronger expense control.
 
This comes a few days after many retailers posted better-than-expected sales in April and could mark the start of a trend.
 
Goldman Sachs said the better April could lead to modest first-quarter earnings beats.
 
“This will be particularly evident across the department store sub sector as most management teams reduced their earnings outlook post March results, which fell short of plan. Kohl’s has already kick started this trend stating EPS would ‘exceed’ previous 40 cents to 42 cents guidance. We suspect J.C. Penney will follow suit, beating management’s 50-cent forecast … given high end of plan sales,” Goldman said in a research note.
 
Retail earnings get going in earnest this week with reports from Wal-Mart, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and others.
 
Also in the basket:
 
April retail sales barely budged: SpendingPulse
  
Luxury brands Prada, Ferragamo risk competing IPOs

(Photo: Reuters)

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