Is A “Reinvented” J. Crew Catalog Enough To Keep Company Afloat?

Image courtesy of JoshBassett|Photography

Amid sinking sales figures, executive turmoil, and a seismic consumer shift away from traditional retail, J. Crew is staking part of its turnaround plan on… rethinking its print catalog?

J. Crew has released its latest quarterly earnings, and for the first three months of 2017, the flagship brand’s sales — which accounts for more than 80% of the company’s revenue — sank 11% to $428.5 million. Despite a 17% uptick at its more popular Madewell brand, J. Crew Group was down 6% in overall revenue.

“While we are disappointed with our first quarter earnings, we are optimistic regarding the work we have underway to improve our business,” said CEO Mickey Drexler, who announced last week that he’ll be stepping down from that post soon, while remaining board chairman.

“We have a clear vision and action plan in place to meet our customers’ needs – wherever and however they choose to shop,” Drexler added.

One part of that plan will involve “reinventing” the company’s print catalog, executives said during a conference call on Monday, reports, noting that the existing system of mailing out a paper catalog is behind the times.

The next iteration of the catalog — whose arrival was once a source of great excitement for shoppers in J. Crew’s better days — will have fewer pages, and men’s and women’s content will be divided into their own editions for more effective targeting.

J. Crew can then take the money it saves on print catalogs and invest it into digital initiatives, executives noted.

Along with focusing on its digital presence, other efforts to reverse its sinking sales include the recent elimination of 250 jobs, and a retreat from the expensive clothing that gave J. Crew its elitist image. It also parted ways with its longtime creative director, Jenna Lyons, in April.

Will all of this be enough to save the company? Some in the industry don’t think so: J. Crew “appears to be financially broken,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of retail consulting firm GlobalData Retail, in a note to clients reported by Business Insider.

“We believe the company is in a parlous state,” Saunders wrote. “In this context, recent management changes appear to be little more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

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