Officials at The Bon-Ton Stores Confident in Plan to Restore Brand Loyalty

Officials at The Bon-Ton Stores have reviewed the business performance in recent years, prioritizing key themes to promote enhanced customer engagement and restore brand loyalty.

The Bon-Ton Stores comprises Bon-Ton, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s, and Younkers stores.

Bill Tracy took over as President and CEO of The Bon Stores a little less than three months ago.

“Over the past three months, I’ve taken a fresh and comprehensive look at our business, particularly given the continued headwinds and a challenging retail environment,” Tracy said during the company’s recent third-quarter earnings conference call. “While our third quarter results fell short of our expectations, I want to assure you that we’re approaching the challenges to the business with a sense of urgency and decisiveness. As such, we’re taking more aggressive steps to drive improved performance as well as strengthen our financial position. As part of our efforts, a few months ago, we retained PJT Partners and AlixPartners, advisers who are helping us implement new operational and financial initiatives.”

Tracy said there will be a refinement of four areas of focus:

Differentiating ourselves through merchandise assortment enhancements

Driving growth in omnichannel

Refining our marketing strategy to increase traffic and customer engagement

Reducing costs through the continued rollout of our profit improvement initiatives.

What’s more, Tracy said the company will deploy a “more aggressive” store rationalization plan and redirect capital expenditures toward investments, designed to drive sales growth.

“Taking all these initiatives together, we have now developed and are implementing a comprehensive turnaround plan for Bon-Ton,” he said.

Tracy outlined key strategies for the holidays, which include: A focus on gifting and impulse businesses.
“We were pleased with the launch of FAO Schwarz shops in 186 stores,” he explained.

Other holiday merchandising strategies include:
Expanding the successful Santa’s Pantry, specialty food items and holiday pop-up shops designed to drive conversion with unique giftable items including the Sweet Dreams Sleep Shop, Beauty to Go, and  Relaxation Shop.

“In January, we anticipate relaunching our Wedding & Gift Registry services for our customers,” Tracy added. “We have taken steps to modernize and simplify this service to enhance the experience for customers who register with us, included an updated website and mobile app, and expanded assortment of wedding and gift-related products online and in-stores.”

Tracy is confident of the path to success for The Bon-Ton Stores.

“Overall, we believe that we can meaningfully enhance our performance by owning Bon-Ton’s competitive advantage at the hometown store,” he said. “By building on the improvements we made in our merchandising execution, we’re not only working to build powerful merchandise assortments but we’re also implementing taxes to improve store plan, allocation, and replenishment, enhance our private brand offerings, and improve the effectiveness of our promotions and markdowns. We’re redefining our merchandise assortments to meet customers’ needs across the broadest spectrum of occasions. This means investing more in core essentials, which are our best-selling products that drive customer loyalty and the latest fashion that add newness to our floors and create an emotional connection with our customers. We’ll eliminate lower performing tertiary SKUs and implement new visual merchandising standards.”

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