What Can Today’s Retailers Learn from the Captain of the Titanic? Plenty.

Like the captain of the Titanic, leadership of failed and failing retailers has been publicly, and occasionally brutally, criticized. In some instances, this criticism is clearly deserved, in other cases not.

It may not be as bad as it seems.

Despite the painful passing and decline of retail industry stalwarts including Linens ‘n Things, RadioShack, The Bon-Ton Stores, Toys R Us, Sears and Kmart, retail chains including Macy’s, Kohl’s, Walmart, Target and other major retailers are showing financial improvement. Macy’s stock price is up 40+ percent year-to-date, Kohl’s is up 30+ percent, and Target is up 25+ percent. The rumors of the death of brick-and-mortar retail have been greatly exaggerated. And, Sears, Kmart and JC Penney are still open for business.

Recently, I participated in the Annual Retail Forum at Columbia Business School where a keynote speaker addressed a question from the audience: “

How would the speaker approach the precarious position of a challenged major retailer? What steps would you recommend?”

The response was,

“Shut it down…they don’t deserve to stay in business.”

This, “throw in the towel,” response brings to mind a key question we should ask ourselves. What would we do if we found ourselves as CEO of a retailer at risk of complete cataclysmic failure? One obvious metaphor is that of being captain of the Titanic. You may not remember, but the Titanic had a bonafide captain: his name was Edward John Smith.

Continue reading “What Can Today’s Retailers Learn from the Captain of the Titanic? Plenty.”

Stitch Fix Drops a Stitch. What’s the Fix?

Brief:

  • Stitch Fix on Monday reported that fourth quarter net revenue rose 23% to $318.3 million, at the upper end of the company’s guidance but “a touch” below Wall Street estimates, as Wells Fargo analysts, led by Ike Boruchow, said in a Monday note. Shares plunged more than 20% after the report Monday evening, per MarketWatch.
  • The company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization also surpassed its own expectation, reaching $11.1 million as net income in the quarter reached $18.3 million, according to a company press release and executive comments during a Monday conference call transcribed by Seeking Alpha. The online box styling service’s active client count (as of July 28) rose 25% or 548,000 to 2.7 million.
  • On Monday, Stitch Fix also said that signups are now open for customers in the United Kingdom, where it will expand by the end of fiscal 2019, its first launch overseas. The U.K. was chosen because consumers there already buy a lot of clothing online, don’t expect as many discounts as consumers in the U.S. and offer opportunities for personalization, CEO Katrina Lake told analysts on Monday.

Dive Insight:

Continue reading “Stitch Fix Drops a Stitch. What’s the Fix?”