Hanover Direct's Brand New Focus
Hanover's two strongest brands—The Company Store and Domestications—together brought in $300 million in sales last year and accounted for 60 percent of the 191 million catalogs the company mailed.
Other properties the company kept in the restructuring include Scandia Down, International Male, Undergear, Silhouettes, and Gump's catalog and retail store.
Hanover recognized that Scandia Down, a smaller but upscale catalog retailer, also fell into the home furnishings/bedding group. "So by creating The Company Store Group," DiFrancesco says, "we now would have that market covered with a moderate, better, best strategy."
Schmid agrees with that strategy, noting, "I like their good, better, best focus."
In making the transition, Hanover had no intention of merging the brands. The Company Store has firm roots and has been around since 1911. Its product mix is more upscale than its sister catalog, Domestications, which was started in 1984 by Hanover.
"The decision to create a home furnishings group was made not to integrate the brands as much as to integrate the back ends: the inventory management and marketing departments, specifically. This would help us from a productivity standpoint," explains DiFrancesco, a veteran catalog marketer, who previously was president of Gump's Direct Marketing, and also has worked at Bloomingdale's by Mail, Bedford Fair, Avon Fashions and Montgomery Ward.
The merchandising staffs for the books remained intact following the consolidation, and there is now interaction between the staffs of the four brands, DiFrancesco says. (He includes Company Kids among the brands in the home furnishings group.)
"The nine buyers on the staff work with many of the same suppliers, and so it makes sense for them to work together," adds Farley Nachemin, chief merchandising officer of The Company Store Group.
Given Hanover's ability to "surround the market from highest quality to moderate" through the catalogs of The Company Store Group, Nachemin says that "one buyer can now buy from the high to low ends of the market."