Tween Brands (NYSE: TWB) operates retail stores that sell clothing to "tweens", girls between the ages of 7 and 14. TWB's stores sell clothing, jewelry, backpacks, purses, and other accessories. The Limited Too was TWB's first chain, with 586 stores open in the U.S. at the end of the first quarter of 2008, and it is aimed at an older, fashion-conscious group that will pay more for clothes than the younger girls that shop at Justice. Justice was launched in 2004, operating 281 stores at the end of Q1 FY08.
Tween Brands' sales have nearly doubled between the end of 2003 ($598 million) and 2007 ($1.0 billion) due to the launch and growth of the Justice brand. Same store sales grew 4% company-wide in 2007, but this was fueled by 21% growth at Justice stores while sales at The Limited Too remained flat (0% growth). The company announced in August '08 that in response to slumping sales at these stores, it will discontinue the Limited Too brand, converting 560 stores to the Justice brand and closing 26 others.
Despite nearly doubling its total revenue from $599 million in 2003 to $1.0 billion in 2007, Tween Brands remains a smaller player in the specialty youth apparel retail market. The company must continue growing to match the performance of competitors like Abercrombie & Fitch ($3.75 billion of sales in 2007), American Eagle ($3.0 billion), and Aeropostale ($1.6 billion).
Limited Too was launched as an in-store department of The Limited, a subsidiary of Limited Brands. Limited Too later grew into its own retail store chain, then in 1999 Tween Brands was spun-off from Limited Brands (LTD). In early calendar-year 2004 (end of FY03), Tween Brands launched Justice, ending FY04 with 35 Justice stores operating in the United States. Both stores have grown significantly since launch, as TWB operated 586 Limited Too and 281 Justice stores at the end of the first quarter of FY08, as well as 26 Limited Too locations in the Middle East through a licensing agreement with Alshaya Trading Co. and 1 Limited Too Store in Sweden through a licensing agreement with Family Invest AB.
Each of Tween Brands' stores target girls aged 7 to 14 with a wide range of apparel and other merchandise, including jewelry, cosmetics, footwear, electronics, music, games, toys (including fad-item Webkinz stuffed animals) and other accessories. Limited Too and Justice only sell their own respective private label apparel, but some of the accessories sold in TWB's stores are sourced from branded manufacturers. While Limited Too and Justice each cater to the tween market, Limited Too's merchandise is higher priced (Limited Too's most expensive jean is priced at $54.50 compared to Justice's most expensive pair at $36.50) and geared for a slightly older portion of the tween market than Justice's assortment.
In 2007, Tween Brands received a total of $1.01 billion in sales between the two apparel store chains, a 14.7% increase from revenue in 2006. TWB's total revenue has increased more than 12% annually since 2004, with net sales nearly doubling from $599 million in 2003 to $1.0 billion in 2007. TWB earned a 36.4% gross margin and 8.3% operating margin on its $1.0 billion of revenue in 2007. TWB's operating margin fell over 2 percentage points in 2007 (from 10.8% in 2006 to 8.3% in 2007), party because operating income fell due to $4.4 million of restructuring expenses related to cost saving initiatives.
In addition to store locations, TWB operates an e-commerce store for the Limited Too brand, which drove a 92% increase in direct channel (e-commerce and catalog) sales for the brand in 2007. This growth continued in 2008 as e-commerce sales from Limited Too's website increased 75% in the first quarter of FY08. In order to capitalize on the growing importance of e-commerce Tween Brands launched an e-commerce operation for its Justice brand in the summer of 2008 for the fall season, in hopes of mirroring the success and popularity of the Limited Too online store which experienced a 35% increase in unique user visits in 2007. Similar tremendous growth in e-commerce sales can be observed at several other youth apparel retailers, such as Abercrombie & Fitch where direct-to-consumer (e-commerce and catalog) sales grew 49% in fiscal 2007 to $259 million (7% of total sales).
Due to the surge of shopping in the second half of the fiscal year created by the back-to-school and holiday seasons, Tween Brands' performance in the third and fourth quarters are incredibly important to the company's success. In 2007, the second half of the year accounted for 57% of total sales and 58% of total gross profit.
Tween Brands is the largest specialty apparel retailer focusing on the tween demographic, with $1.0 billion in 2007 sales. However, it is the only major retailer that specifically and exclusively targets the "tween" market of 7 to 14 year old girls. Most of its competition comes from other youth apparel retailers who target teenagers or children with similarly fashioned apparel and merchandise. One of Tween Brands' most direct competitors are Abercrombie & Fitch Company (ANF) and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO). Tween Brands' most threatening competitor is another company that was spun-off from Limited Brands: Abercrombie & Fitch. Abercrombie is a major competitor for Tween Brands because although most of its revenue comes from its namesake and Hollister chains, ANF's children's store, abercrombie, targets a similar age group as TWB's stores. ANF received over $471 million in sales in 2007 from its 202 abercrombie stores, making the specialty children's store about half the size of Tween Brands. In addition to Abercrombie & Fitch Company (ANF), American Eagle's aerie sub-brand which is sold in AEO stores and 62 standalone aerie stores targets teenage girls who fall in the older end of Tween Brand's target market. Also, American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) will launch a children's brand, 77kids, online in the second-half of fiscal 2008 and in stores in 2010, which will directly compete with Limited Too and Justice. Also within the youth apparel specialty market, Tween Brands faces some competition from Aeropostale, which targets 14 to 17 year old girls and boys, placing it in the cusp of Tween Brands' target age range.
Beyond Abercrombie & Fitch Company (ANF), American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Aeropostale (ARO), Tween Brands competes with other retailers who offer apparel and accessories for young girls, such as Gap (GPS), through its GapKids and Old Navy stores.
|Company||Net Sales (mm)||Gross Margin||Operating Margin||Sales Growth (Decline) from 2006||Same Store Sales Growth (Decline)||Total Stores (End Q1 FY08)||Sales per Store (thousands)|
|Abercrombie & Fitch||$3,749||67.0%||19.7%||13.0%||(-1.0%)||1,047||$3,623|
|American Eagle Outfitters (AEO)||$3,055||46.6%||19.6%||9.3%||1.0%||1,018||$3,095|