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Spade starts strong for Neiman

The Neiman Marcus Group boasted early successes with the recent launch of its Kate Spade bedding collections during its third quarter earnings conference call last week.

"Particularly there are tabletop and linens and domestics, which are new entries and are by licensees, that have come onto the market this spring very strong," said Burton Tansky, president and CEO.

Springs Industries — the licensee for Kate Spade bed and bath — first previewed the collection with Spade to upstairs department stores in October during the tabletop market in New York. The products hit store shelves last month.

By this fall, Tansky said, the company will operate 14 stand-alone Kate Spade retail locations.

"(The Kate Spade stores) are doing very well, and retail sales have been very strong," he added, "especially the stores that are three to four years old."

Tansky explained that the company is also expanding its core Neiman Marcus locations, while revamping others.

New store openings on the company's horizon include locations in San Antonio and Boca Raton in the fall of 2005, and Austin in the fall of 2006. The San Antonio location, Tansky noted, will be the company's first in Texas in 20 years; while the 136,000-square-foot Boca Raton site will increase Neiman's Florida footprint to seven stores.

"Florida is a very lucrative market for us, and we are very excited about the potential of this location," said Tansky. "The demographics for these sites are strong, and we look forward to continuing the development phase of these three stores."

Additionally, he noted, Neiman has several remodels underway, which include completely remodeling the stores and adding square footage.

"One of the main benefits of a remodel is it allows us to realign the adjacencies of the store to highlight those categories and vendors which provide the greatest opportunities for growth and improved productivity," said Tansky.

Currently, he said, the company is remodeling its Newport Beach, Calif., store and adding 30,000 square feet. That remodel is slated for completion in the spring of 2005. At the San Francisco store, Neiman is adding 60,000 square feet, with a scheduled completion date of spring 2006. Also, Tansky said, the Houston Galleria location will be remodeled by the fall of 2005, with the addition of approximately 15,000 square feet.

Overall, he noted, Neiman will add, through new stores opening or remodels, 30,000 square feet in fiscal 2005, 330,000 square feet in fiscal 2006, and 80,000 square feet in fiscal 2007. The company's long-term goal, said Tansky, is to have annual square-footage growth of 2 to 3 percent, "and we believe our plans are in line with this goal."

In other developments for the retailer, Neiman Marcus Group discussed the recent upgrades to its point-of-sale system intended to generate more sales of higher value.

Tansky said the updated system is designed to better educate sales associates about customers — providing them with "a great deal of information. They'll know when the customer shops at the store, how often and what the categories are that they are most interested in. It will allow our sales associates to do more suggestive selling and be able to guide the customer through the store. I think it will ultimately help us do more multiple selling, build the sale and increase the value of the sale."

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