Charming Shoppes launches Lane Bryant catalog, folds Regalia

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Charming Shoppes Inc. has launched a Lane Bryant catalog, Web site and loyalty program and folded the Regalia catalog among other initiatives intended to support its multichannel strategy on a long-term basis.

However, in the short term, the company said there are continuing challenges in the apparel industry such as slowing traffic levels during October, particularly at Lane Bryant stores. As a result, Charming Shoppes plans to be more aggressive in its marketing efforts. The company intends to give customers more reasons to shop at its stores by increasing direct mail advertising to each of its brands throughout the holiday season and by adding cable TV ads for Lane Bryant during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Charming Shoppes operates 2,378 stores under the brands Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Fashion Bug Plus, Catherines Plus Sizes, Lane Bryant Outlet and Petite Sophisticate Outlet. Its Crosstown Traders division operates catalogs such as: Old Pueblo Traders, Bedford Fair and Lew Magram.

Redcats USA previously held the license for the Lane Bryant catalog, but that arrangement expired last month. Charming Shoppes, Bensalem, PA, anticipated the launch of the Lane Bryant direct business with its acquisition of the Crosstown Traders business in 2005 and by appointing Lori Twomey as president of Crosstown in April. From 2000 to 2007, Twomey served as Eddie Bauer's divisional VP and general merchandise manager of direct-to-consumer sales.

Twomey already has initiated new creative, marketing and product offerings for many titles and is focused on the growth of e-commerce to supplement catalog purchases. As part of these changes, Charming Shoppes will discontinue Regalia, one of its smaller catalog titles, and begin marketing efforts to migrate the brand's customer base to its other catalog titles.

"Her early initiatives have begun to produce results, as we have experienced a meaningful moderation in the decline of the catalog sales and response rates during the third quarter," said Dorrit J. Bern, chairman/CEO/president of Charming Shoppes, in a statement.

During the third quarter, the company completed the acquisition of the Lane Bryant credit file, representing approximately 7.1 million Lane Bryant retail store credit card accounts and associated receivables. As a result, it has re-issued 2.3 million new credit cards and, for the first time, customers will enjoy loyalty and rewards features including special offers and points earned for dollars spent.

The company also announced that it will relocate the Memphis, TN, operations for its Catherines Plus Sizes business to its Bensalem, PA, offices as part of a consolidation strategy. Leadership, human resources, finance allocation and other retail brand support functions for its Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes and outlet businesses will be consolidated in Bensalem, PA. The company's Memphis, TN, operations will be relocated there by March. Merchandising and product development will continue to operate separately within each brand.

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