Ann Taylor Case Study

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Case 39 – Ann Taylor


Ann Taylor was founded in 1954 as a wardrobe home for busy, socially upscale women by Robert Liebeskind. Its first stand-alone clothing store was started in New Haven, Connecticut. Ann Taylor was never a real person; it was a brand identity or a personality within the retail clothing industry.

Kay Krill, the current president/CEO, has been the leader of the company since 2004 and has faced many issues and challenges with the ANN legacy as a women’s specialty clothing retailer:

• When she was appointed “there was concern among commentators and customers that the Ann Taylor look was getting ‘stodgy,’ and the question was how to reestablish Ann Taylor as the preeminent brand for beautiful, elegant, and sophisticated occasion dressing.” (C308)

• The 2008 economic downturn had a profound effect on the retail industry as a whole. One industry group estimated that over 6,000 retail stores had closed in 2008 which was a 25% increase from the previous year. Macroeconomic conditions were worsening and the entire retail environment was threatened by less consumer demand.

• Also, Ann Taylor was a women’s specialty retailing store which engaged in retailing a specific line of women’s clothing. This single product focus includes a high risk for the company, because any loss in sales could not be recovered in another product area.

• Ann Taylor over the course of a few years had many different store concepts underneath the one defining Ann Taylor brand. At one point in its history the company had five separate store concepts. Cannibalization between the brands was disrupting overall sales volume. There was too much going on at the same time and analysts noted it was hard to get all the divisions moving forward simultaneously.

• Another major issue with Ann Taylor that Krill needed to deal with on a more personal level was the amount of management turnover. She dealt with seven resignations, seven new hires, and two promotions in her upper-management team over two years’ time. This is a struggle for a company trying to focus on long-term growth and restoring performance and momentum in the brand.

These issues challenged the strategy developed over the years by Krill. She focused on long-term growth and was quoted after her promotion to CEO saying her goals were “improving profitability while enhancing both brands…restoring performance at the Ann Taylor division and restoring the momentum at LOFT.” This was a bold statement and there were many uncertainties and questions raised about her agenda with the firm.

The following analyses will identify key issues and are justified by supporting data cited from the case.


General Environment/Macro-environment

| |Positive |Neutral |Negative | |Demographic |Older baby boomer demographic | | | | |accounted for half of women’s | | | | |clothing purchases | | | |Socio-cultural | | |Economic downturn kept women from | | | | |malls and people are looking for | | | | |deals | |Technological | |Online competition trend | | |Political-Legal...
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