Mark, Fore & Strike Catalog Division Is Closing

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The Mark Group, a multi-brand direct marketer of women's apparel, home accessories and gifts, yesterday said it plans to discontinue its Mark, Fore & Strike catalog division.

The Boca Raton, FL, firm cited "several years of disappointing sales" after which its board of directors made the decision, and also said management will focus on its "highly successful" Boston Proper brand.

"Our objective is to build Boston Proper into a premier national brand in the next few years," CEO Michael Tiernan said in a statement. "In addition to accelerating the growth of the Boston Proper catalog and our Boston Proper Internet e-commerce channel, we believe that there is a big opportunity to develop a Boston Proper retail store concept."

Boston Proper's target customers were described as affluent women ages 35 to 55.

Along with Boston Proper, The Mark Group also operates Charles Keath, a gift, home accessories and furniture catalog.

The company plans to continue to operate its Mark, Fore & Strike retail store chain consisting of 12 specialty stores on the East Coast.

The Mark, Fore & Strike catalog was established in 1978, and at its peak in 1996 mailed more than 25 million catalogs annually.

Statistics provided by a company representative of The Mark Group yesterday included:

• Mark, Fore & Strike catalog customers are upscale women ages 45 and 70 with an average income of $70,000 who are "educated and enjoy traveling [as well as] casual, easy-care clothing."

• They live predominantly in suburban communities.

• In 1998, the company mailed more than 18 million Mark, Fore & Strike catalogs in 10 editions for a total of 21 mailings.

• It offers between 260 and 300 apparel items in each catalog.

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