I just wanted to check in and say hello since it's been awhile. The apparel business is on fire right now at BJ's - clearly the strategies and improvements you brought to our company are starting to pay off! We just returned from the team conference in Orlando where we were able to spend some time with the club GM's and collaborate on the new strategic priorities that our new CEO has initiated.
Senior Merchant at BJ’s Wholesale Club
NATIONAL WAREHOUSE WHOLESALE CLUB
Business Challenge: Called by the CEO to help in apparel and home. Business was not good. The clubs carried heavy inventories and lower level brands compared with industry leaders. Ongoing residual markdowns hurt sales and caused the company to lag well behind competitive retailers.
Solution: We came in and talked through the situation with management, along with the buying and replenishment team. Following a thorough analysis of annual sales, inventory and margins by month, we built a tailored plan, a go-to-market calendar, and a revised buying process. We then built a case to get buy-in from top management to clear summer inventories more quickly in order to free up the clubs for new, fall merchandise – a first time ever initiative. The plan called for fewer new styles delivered more frequently and in smaller quantities than historically purchased. This was coupled with balanced seasonal conversions with more newness on an ongoing basis. We then assisted the company with the introduction of new, higher-level brands to add to their mix.
Results: The customer responded very well to the changes, as did in-club management. Sales and margins jumped as more units were sold at the higher ticket, and as we moved through excessive seasonal carryover. The team was ecstatic and led general merchandise in performance for the season.
WOMEN'S APPAREL IMPORTER
Business Challenge: This company was profitable and recently posted their best year in many. They saw themselves poised as ready to grow through the acquisition of brands and new distribution in the marketplace.
Solution: We came in and observed several issues that, if addressed, would drive up sales immediately. We quickly coordinated teamwork among the sales and design teams, then prepared for an upcoming sales event meeting: putting together a working calendar with scheduled meetings to better assess customer needs and to update the product line. Concurrently, we searched for the right brand or license to expand their business. Next, we helped build sales strategies to grow business with their existing customers and called upon retailers who could be potential new customers.
Results: The company exceeded their best market week in many years [and are optimistic they are on-track to beat their projections for the entire fiscal year.] Sales continue to grow nicely with loyal customers in both new and existing departments. A new retail outlet has been opened, and two additional retailers are ready to come on board this year as a result of our working together. We’re continuing our efforts on acquiring additional brands as we extend the company’s reach in the retail marketplace!
SENIOR CONSULTANT TO INVESTMENT FIRMS
Celia is frequently called upon as an advisor for potential investments, including working with private equity firms to provide due diligence on mergers or acquisitions.
Business Challenge: Provide education and market information to investment firms on a variety of topics, from off-price retail to the plus-size marketplace.
Results: Investment firms continually provide unsolicited and enthusiastic feedback regarding positive results achieved based on Celia’s guidance.
HOME TEXTILES MANUFACTURER
This company wanted to be an omni-channel leader in e-commerce strategy for both B2B and B2C.
Business Challenge: Lagging in e-commerce sales, the client wanted to establish a leadership position in that space in addition to brick and mortar. While trends in the market were clear, they needed to get the company focused in better serving this small but rapidly growing segment of their business. They needed a full omni-channel, go-to-market, strategy like many other companies.
How We Helped: After meeting with senior and middle managers, we built two plans for the company. First, we provided a consistent, e-commerce roadmap for their retail partners. The company also needed an e-commerce playbook for the sales team with better digital tools and specific analyses of the online business, in addition to that of brick and mortar. Our plan called for one staff addition, a digital catalog, and a workable plan of execution. Second, we put a plan in place to improve their website to sell their brands direct-to-consumer online, which deepened their relationship with consumers and enhanced their relationships with retailers.
Results: The company exponentially increased their sales online and grew well above their objectives. With the plan we provided, fully integrated into their business, the company continues to grow profitably.
Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation
Business Challenge: The Board wanted to better support low income and ethnic entrepreneurs to encourage diversity through business advisory.
Solution: Following local entrepreneurs receiving loans and grants to launch startup businesses, I was brought in as a technical business advisor and conducted one-on-one mentoring in a variety of business categories from new retail concepts to restaurants and health & beauty salons.
Results: The businesses now up and running, I presented key recommendations on a future curriculum that the PERC Executive Committee could use as a tool for how entrepreneurs can be successfully supported and trained in Berkshire County. New programs continue to be developed for future application.
Business Challenge: Poor performance of the Museum shop, handled by full-time employee.
Solution: I was hired to plan, buy, and merchandise the shop; in keeping with Museum vision and strategy.
Results: Shop performance became up-to-budget in the first full month. Results consistently exceeded budget and received rave reviews from staff, members, and board.