Kohl’s merchants are ny-bound

by MR Magazine Staff

NEW YORK – Kohl’s will open a design office in New York to support its fast-growing array of exclusive brands, stockholders were told at the firm’s annual meeting Wednesday.

Kohl’s said that brands available only at Kohl’s – including Chaps, Candie’s and Elle – currently account for 7% of company offerings. Kohl’s selection of exclusive brands will grow this fall when Simply Vera Vera Wang and Food Network are added to its assortment as “available only at Kohl’s” labels.

In the most recent fiscal year, sales increased 16% to US$15.5 billion and comparable-store sales were up 5.9%.

“We saw continued gross margin improvements as we benefited from improved inventory flow and allocation and increased penetration from our private and exclusive brands,” said Larry Montgomery, Kohl’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“In 2007, we will continue our focus on merchandise content, marketing, inventory management and the in-store shopping experience to increase share of wallet with current customers and drive in new customers,” he noted.

Kohl’s opened 85 stores in 2006, finishing the year with 817 in 45 states, up from 732 units in 41 states at the end of 2005.

This year, plans call for 110 to 115 new units, including the first in the states of Idaho and Wyoming. The company plans to have more than 1,200 stores in operation by 2010.

Ninety of Kohl’s 834 have been remodeled to reflect the company’s new prototype, introduced last fall.

The majority of Kohl’s stores are 88,000-square-foot units on a single level, but it’s also opened 39 smaller format stores (68,000 square feet) and four larger ones for urban areas (133,000 square feet multi-level units). All three formats are part of its expansion plans.