With Ann Taylor and Chico's FAS Inc. fielding takeover offers, would-be buyers have to decide whether aging brands can adapt to a culture where women are dressing younger than ever. ANN Inc., Chico's and other chains that have long catered to older professional women haven't built as much rapport with millennial shoppers, who don't want to shop at the same stores as their moms, said Liz Dunn, CEO of consulting firm Talmage Advisors. Even women approaching middle age are wary of retailers that are perceived as old, she said.
The attacks are a reminder of social media's power to undermine the reputation and shares of a public company. J.C. Penney, struggling to turn itself around after the failed strategy of former CEO Ron Johnson, is especially vulnerable to market sentiment. "J.C. Penney's is a very specific situation," said Liz Dunn, an analyst at Macquarie Group in New York. "I wouldn't expect this to be a rampant problem of anonymous Twitter users bashing companies."
Liz Dunn, consumer sector senior analyst at Macquarie Capital, looks at the three things J.C. Penney needs to do in the next six months.
After getting women hooked on fancy handbags and expensive shoes in recent years, retailers are trying to rekindle a love affair with clothes. Department stores are leading the charge, with Saks, Nordstrom and Macy’s improving in-house clothing lines and refurbishing women’s departments.