The web trumps store growth for bebe

September 1, 2015 01:44 PM

Store sales and total sales were mediocre for apparel retailer bebe Stores Inc., which just closed the books on its 2015 fiscal year. But it was a good year for e-commerce, Bebe CEO Jim Wiggett told Wall Street analysts on the company’s recent year-end earnings call, according to a transcript from

“E-commerce represents a key growth opportunity,” Wigget told analysts “Our website is the reflection of the bebe brands, and we are aligning our inventory across each channel in which we connect with our customer, including our retail boutiques, catalogues, all our marketing materials, our social media and the e-commerce side itself.” 

Bebe, No. 410 in the 2015 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, doesn’t break out e-commerce specifics but did say its online retail channel “grew in the mid-teens range” for the fiscal year ended July 4. 

  • Based on an Internet Retailer estimate of 15% year-over-year growth, e-commerce for bebe increased to $37.6 million from $32.6 million in fiscal 2014.
  • Total sales increased 0.7% to $428.0 million from $425.1 million.
  • Comparable-store sales increased 3.1%.
  • Net loss was $27.7 million compared with $73.4 million.
  • Internet Retailer estimates the web accounted for 8.8% of total revenue compared with 7.7%.

The past year was a period of rebuilding for bebe, including online. The retailer didn’t disclose much detail on its year-end earnings call but did mention some website upgrades, including updated product photography and product recommendations. “We have completed the re-skinning of our website as of August as part of our effort to enhance the customer experience and develop the stronger connection to our customers,” Wigget told analysts. “As we continue to build upon these strategies we expect to see an opportunity for accelerated growth in our e-commerce channel.”

For the fourth quarter ended July 4:

  • Bebe didn’t break out e-commerce metrics.
  • Total sales increased 0.7% to $104.3 million from $103.6 million in the year-ago period.
  • Comparable-store sales increased 1.1%
  • Net loss was $5.2 million compared with $34.5 million.

Bebe also announced plans to begin retail operations in China, though that plan as of now doesn’t include e-commerce. The company signed a five-year agreement with Longgoal LLC, a Shanghai retail development and wholesale company, to open between 60 and 150 locations in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The first boutique is expected to open in the summer of 2016, the company says.




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