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Hancock to Undergo Extreme Makeover

Company to Add Several Products, Expand Existing Lines

Michele SanFilippo -- Home Textiles Today, May 23, 2005

Baldwyn, Miss. — Hancock Fabrics will undergo an extreme makeover this year to remerchandise its stores by the fall. The plan calls for the company to reconnect with its customers and stores by reevaluating everything it does from the customer's point of view in terms of product selection, store layout, merchandise presentation and advertising/marketing initiatives.

“Phase one is all about acquiring the knowledge to gain control over and stabilize our business,” said Jane Aggers, president and CEO of Hancock Fabrics. “Phase two is about using the information from our customers and stores to improve the four-wall results of existing stores. (This) is already in place and very active with an aggressive timeline to support the fall season.”

The first part of the plan includes daily conference calls with 10 store managers, store visits to talk to customers and employees, and semi-annual corporate meetings. The second involves merchandise content, presentation and marketing, as well as remerchandising certain areas of the store making it easier to shop and manage.

“The stores are telling us what their customers want, and we are making plans to implement these merchandising changes,” she said, adding that so far Hancock has spoken to half the store managers and will continue doing so in the next few weeks. “The process has been enlightening and is being used to develop future merchandising and marketing plans,” said Aggers.

For merchandise content changes, the company will add several new products as well as expand existing product lines. According to executives, these additions include higher quality lines and branded lines requested by more serious sewers and expanded assortments of colors and styles requested by a wider range of Hancock's customers. But the company does not plan to stray from its core customer.

In terms of merchandise presentation, “We will relocate our home accent items from the front of the store to the back, bringing home decorating fabrics forward and highlight our home dec store within a store concept because, after all, we are America's fabric store," Aggers described.

"In addition, using our existing inventory, we will colorize our quilting fabric wall because that's the way she wants to shop it. We will also add some new fixtures that allow us to improve our merchandise presentation and are more flexible allowing us to move them within the store and change merchandise in and out as trends change," she continued.

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