Neiman Marcus hit the skids hard due to the recession. November 2009 store sales were down 12.7 percent over the previous year. The company cut jobs, trimmed inventories, and experienced heavy losses — but the brand has yet to stray from its original mantra.
“We have no intention of changing our business model or trading down,” chief executive Burt Tansky told Wall Street analysts on a conference call last month. “It’s important to reiterate that we will continue to offer our customers the luxury and designer merchandise that they want to buy and, in fact, some of our best-selling merchandise is at the upper end of our price ranges.”[more]
That course of action will keep the brand relevant to the Wall Street Bankers with busting wallets. “I expect watches, high-end men’s suits, fur coats, things like that” to see a bonus boost, Joseph Foudy, a clinical assistant professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business, told WWD. “Families are going to reward themselves once the money is in the bank. The partial restoration of many affluent families’ net worth, given the stock market recovery in ’09, will lead to bigger spending at the Bloomingdale’s and Nordstroms of the world.”
Men will flock to Neiman Marcus (and already have, with December 2009 sales up 4.9%, partly on men’s clothing) with bonus bucks because the brand represents an intense aura of prestige. It was originally launched in 1907 to present the best clothes money could buy to rich Texas oil men.
The brands are tried and true, with Armani, Gucci, Versace and D&G, representing the finest Italian threads at their best. The founders of Neiman Marcus built an empire on luxury, hosting art exhibitions at stores and weekly fashion shows in the 1950s, and releasing the extravagant Christmas catalog in 1960. People are longing to embrace luxury again and this is a brand that offers style, fashion and service — even at malls — for recession-weary shoppers.