Hanover Direct's Brand New Focus
Hanover Direct Had Nearly Drowned Among Too Many Properties, But its Focus is Clear Now: A New Merchandising Strategy that Concentrates on Core Brands.
By Alicia Orr Suman
Focus. That's what was lacking at Hanover Direct, says Tom Shull, president and CEO of the company. Hanover Direct, nearly insolvent when Shull took the helm two-and-a half years ago, at one time had 22 businesses.
To get out of debt, Hanover shed catalogs and other businesses, and concentrated on growing its strongest brands. Shull, a turnaround specialist who had worked on the revitalizations of both Barneys and Macy's, says it was a difficult decision to "get rid of some very good business in order to save a great business." Hanover Direct says it now is amidst a significant turnaround.
At the forefront of Hanover's road to recovery is a new "branded merchandising strategy" led by the integration of The Company Store and Domestications divisions. John DiFrancesco, president of the newly formed The Company Store Group, created last November, explains the progression of events that led up to the change: "When Tom [Shull] took over, he asked, where was the strength of Hanover? We recognized we had tremendous strength in the home furnishings market, particularly in soft goods. We looked to focus there first."
Commenting on Hanover's new strategy, catalog consultant Jack Schmid, founder of J.Schmid & Associates, says that Hanover's financial difficulties stemmed from a lack of focus and too many acquisitions. "It seems to me that the 'old Hanover' would buy up anything and everything. They had all of these catalogs that had nothing to do with each other. That's been their problem."
Part of Hanover's strength, says Schmid, is its core brands. "I like what they're doing in terms of [putting] The Company Store and Domestications in one group."