Based Fashion Retailer drops 60,000 Books in Canada

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CHICAGO - Oilily, an upmarket Dutch apparel retailer and cataloger with 30 stores in the US, dropped 60,000 books in Canada six weeks ago with a "not all that favorable" response rate.

Still, Kristin Black, the DM manager for the stores, will do a second test in the fall and then decide whether to do a rollout or not. She said that a full assessment and analysis of the first test would not be completed until later this month.

Oilily, which has 26 stores in Europe, came to the US ten years ago to build a retail network. Two years ago it launched a US catalog designed to drive store traffic and last fall the firm started mailing a US catalog, which is doing "very well although not meeting our plan."

The company started the Canadian test with a small house file it had built from one store in Canada which is now closed, and then began renting lists from Millard and Mokrynski.

"We basically did the consulting work to help them break into Canada," Mokrynski's Michael Rothschild said. "We helped with service bureaus, suppliers and generally putting them on the right track."

In recommending lists, Rothschild explained that "we have found that when people go into Canada we have to look at lists that are not Canada based. Out of country catalog lists very often give a better response rate."

Oilivy sells children's and women's apparel, both aimed at the high end of the market, Black said. Children's dresses cost an average $98 with ages ranging from two to 11. Women's dresses sell for an average $198.

Product is imported from Europe to a warehouse in Connecticut which delivers to the chain's stores. Canadian customers can call in orders to the stores closest to their homes - most often Minneapolis, Seattle, Vail and White Plains.

Catalog photographs and layouts are produced in the Netherlands with English language copy written by free-lancers in Chicago, where Oilily's US operations are headquartered.

The company has stores in toney locations like Beverly Hills, on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and on Madison Avenue in New York.

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