Changing culture among the 200 corporate employees and 1,500 store workers has also been key to the turnaround effort.
“When a business is so bad, people forget how to win,” Jones said. Mannequins showing off the latest jewelry and apparel styles are set up in the entry lobby. Large marketing images of the brand are in hallways.
Employees redesigned an old mail room in the lower level, now dubbed “The Hanger,” where co-workers meet for lunch and hang out among library books, comfortable sofas and high-top tables.
During the “dog days of summer,” someone suggested allowing two employees to bring their dogs to work each Friday. It was so popular it’s still going on.
“It got people outside of their silos and speaking to each other,” Jones said. “It signaled that we’re going to have some fun and become a company that knows how to win.”
The company remains in turnaround mode, and Jones resisted putting a time frame on how long it might take to pull through it.
Christopher & Banks is actively pursuing Dressbarn customers and looking to grab share from Sears, Bon Ton Stores and J.C. Penney, among others. It announced a plan to close 30 to 40 underperforming stores by 2020, though CFO Richard Bundy said with renegotiated rents, the company may not need to close as many.
The retailer has trimmed operating expenses and expects to cut $7 million by the end of 2020 by shuttering stores and negotiating better lease terms.
That has enabled Jones to shore up the retailer’s digital game, something she knows well. At Target, she oversaw the global supply chain and led the rollout of the Minneapolis-based retailer’s “omnichannel” fulfillment strategy, which included using stores as mini-distribution centers to speed up merchandise delivery to customers and reduce some of the shipping costs.
In a year’s time, Christopher & Banks launched ship-from-store in all 375 of its non-outlet stores. Customers now can also order online for in-store pickup, though the process is not quite “optimized,” Bundy said. About 22% of the retailer’s business comes from online sales.
Getting online shopping and speedy delivery is an expensive proposition but one that no retailer can afford to get wrong.
“Amazon is really pushing the envelope with same-day delivery. That’s where it’s headed,” Perkins said. “Christopher & Banks customers tend to be a little older and didn’t grow up with instant gratification. But most boomers are in tune to technology and are relatively savvy. They don’t like waiting either.”
Jones said the company is able to invest toward a more seamless online shopping experience without diminishing its focus on improving stores, its assortment and marketing efforts to promote a more fashion-forward assortment.
The third-quarter results represented “a major trajectory change,” she said, and she expects to a report positive cash position at the end of the year. “We’ve been very prescriptive about how we’re going to work together, how we’re going to measure our performance, and how we’re going to challenge each other but support each other,” Jones said. “That’s one of the remarkable things about bringing in this many new leaders and having it be so well functioning. It’s about the brand and not one person or one area.” ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.