Did you hear?... Spiegel to close 45 Eddie Bauer stores

Following dismal sales in 4Q, Martin Zaepfel, vice chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Spiegel Group (NASDAQ: SPGLA) announced that Spiegel would be closing 45 Eddie Bauer stores and opening five others in 2002.
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Following dismal sales in 4Q, Martin Zaepfel, vice chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Spiegel Group (NASDAQ: SPGLA) announced that Spiegel would be closing 45 Eddie Bauer stores and opening five others in 2002. "Our fourth quarter results were extremely disappointing and although the economic downturn clearly impacted our ability to stimulate sales, weaknesses in our merchandise offer and marketing programs also contributed to the lackluster sales performance, particularly in our Eddie Bauer division. During the fourth quarter, we planned for Eddie Bauer's new brand positioning and revamped product offer to deliver higher sales productivity. While expectations were lowered based on the difficult economic conditions, customer acceptance was obviously lower than expected," said Bauer. Higher markdowns and incremental marketing promotions negatively affected Eddie Bauer's margins he went on to state. It was also announced that Spiegel has engaged a strategic consultant to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of Eddie Bauer's market competitiveness and brand positioning. The results of the detailed study are expected to be available by the end of the first quarter. The findings from the study will guide the company in revamping its merchandising and marketing initiatives, the report said. Stores that will be shut down are considered by the company to be under-performing stores. Currently, the Eddie Bauer company has 443 apparel stores, 43 home stores, and 101 outlet stores in the U.S. and Canada, and 47 stores through joint venture partnerships, with nine in Germany and 38 in Japan. The company also mails 110 million catalogs annually, and runs multiple online Web sites: eddiebauer.com, eddiebauerhome.com, and eboutlet.com (eddiebauerkids.com was shut down in early January).

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