October 2, 2018 / 5:03 PM / 2 months ago

Walmart acquires plus-sized clothing startup Eloquii

FILE PHOTO: A Walmart store is seen in Encinitas, California April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Walmart Inc (WMT.N) on Tuesday said it will acquire Eloquii, a fashion startup that sells plus-sized clothing, for an undisclosed amount as it continues to look for ways to appeal to younger shoppers and differentiate from rival Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

Eloquii, a four-year-old startup, sells apparel starting at size 14 through its own website and through five of its own stores. Walmart, the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, said Eloquii has seen its revenue grow by three times since 2015, without giving more details.

Plus-size apparel is part of a $21 billion market and represents one of the fastest growing segments in women’s apparel, Walmart said in a statement. More than half of women between the ages of 18 to 65 in the United States wear size 14 or higher, the retailer said.

“These customers have been historically underserved, with clothing limited by its lack of fashion, lack of fit, or both,” Walmart said.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer has previously acquired smaller digital brands like Modcloth and Bonobos to complement its online assortment.

Eloquii CEO Mariah Chase, the startup’s management team and 100 employees will continue to be based in Long Island City, New York, and Columbus, Ohio. They will join Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce team, reporting to Andy Dunn, senior vice-president of digital consumer brands at Walmart U.S. eCommerce.

“We are laser focused on developing a portfolio of direct to consumer brands with a unique assortment you can’t find anywhere else,” Dunn said in a separate blog post on Tuesday.

The Eloquii brand was first created by retail chain The Limited in 2011 but was discontinued a little over a year later. A team of employees with help from an outside investor bought the brand and relaunched it in 2014.

Walmart said the deal is expected to close this quarter.

Reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Paul Simao

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