Chico’s FAS on Friday announced a “retail fleet optimization plan” that will shutter 250 stores over the next three years and include a review of the company’s operations, according to a company press release. As of November, the company operated about 1,400 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
The women’s apparel conglomerate, which owns Chico’s, White House Black Market and Soma, is leaning on a new omnichannel plan to increase flexibility and efficiency across the organization, the company said.
Looking ahead, the company said that comps are trending better than its previous outlook. By brand, fourth quarter comps for Chico’s are in line with expectations, while White House Black Market comps are exceeding and Soma sales are well above expectations.
Like many mall-based specialty chains, Chico’s has struggled to reimagine itself in an era where malls are just starting to stabilize after devastating levels of store closures from Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears and Toys R Us.
At the end of its latest quarter, Chico’s FAS comps tumbled 6.8%, partially reflecting the impact of 43 net store closures in 2017 and decreases in transaction count, mostly at its flagship Chico’s brand. Store comps at Chico’s fell 10.2%, at White House Black Market fell 5.1% and at Soma lingerie rose 2.4%.
But executives say that recent successes from partnerships with the likes of ShopRunner, Amazon and QVC, as well as the adoption of new tech tools, have built up a foundation upon which it can now “fully activate its omnichannel strategy.”
CEO and President Shelley Broader, who has held her role since 2015, said in a statement Friday that the new focus is about implementing strategies that will drive “the greatest levels of growth and profitability of our business.” To her, that includes improvement in each brand and a further focus on omnichannel.