* New York fashion office opened in 2009
* About 275 staff affected by unit's return to Bentonville
* Company says focus on basics is working
Oct 26 Wal-Mart Stores Inc is shuttingits New York fashion office and consolidating buying operations
at its home base in Bentonville, Arkansas, after flopping in
its attempt to attract customers by offering trendier clothes.
The world's largest retailer, which is now refocusing on
basic goods, made a splashy move to Broadway, in the heart of
Manhattan's Fashion District, in 2009.
At the time, the U.S. Walmart chain was attempting to
broaden its business by offering more fashionable clothing to
the millions of people who shop at its discount stores each
week. But shoppers were not impressed, and the company soon
retreated from that strategy.
"When you consider our core strategy centered in basics and
fashion basics, in order to execute our offices do not need to
be located in New York," Andy Barron, executive vice president
of the Walmart U.S. softlines business, said in a memo sent to
U.S. employees on Wednesday.
"Also roughly 40 percent of our apparel planning,
replenishment and modular execution associates are in
Bentonville today. It just makes sense to unite our apparel
efforts in one location."
The retailer's renewed focus on basic clothing has helped
in certain categories. Still, overall apparel sales at stores
open at least a year, or same-store sales, continue to fall.
"We're very focused, very focused, on winning and basics,
on socks, underwear, jeans and basic tops. It's who we are,
that's what we stand for," Chief Merchandising Officer Duncan
Mac Naughton said at an analyst conference earlier this month.
In September, Walmart's same-store sales of underwear,
socks and jeans rose, Mac Naughton said.
Wal-Mart said it plans to relocate as many as possible of
the roughly 275 workers in New York to Bentonville. It aims to
fully move the business back to its home office by Feb. 1.