Fort Wayne-based Vera Bradley Inc. (Nasdaq: VRA) has detailed what Chief Executive Officer Rob Wallstrom calls a "great start" on licensing efforts to expand its global reach. The home and fashion accessory designer has reached agreements involving Vera Bradley’s signature patterns on stationary, home and office organizational products from Life Guard Press and coloring and design books and gift sets from Fox Chapel Publishing. The latter will be available for the upcoming holiday season and the former will be introduced next fall.
The company plans to sell the new offerings in Vera Bradley stores, at verabradley.com and in U.S. specialty and chain stores. Chief Merchandising Officer Sue Fuller says "we are very fortunate that there is enormous interest in Vera Bradley in each of these areas and that we are able to be selective and develop relationships with the expert partners that are the best fits for our company." She says more agreements could be on the horizon "our distinctive patterns naturally lend themselves to a myriad of products in home, fashion and beauty."
In a call with investors, Wallstrom said the company is in a better position for long-term growth than any other time in his three years on the job, even in the face of industry challenges like Macy’s cutting stores. "We’re still fairly under-penetrated in the department store (sector), relative to our competitive set, so we do believe that as the department store sector goes through its changes, and we see thing like the closures that Macy’s announced, we think in the long-term it’ll allow the department store sector to have better stores left in their fleet and to shed themselves of some of their smaller stores, which we think in the long-term will help make them stronger."
During a conference call Thursday morning with investors, Wallstrom added the goal of the licensing initiative, which has been in the works for months, is to cast a wider net. "What’s actually been one of the key drivers to our licensing strategy is really getting the brand in front of new customers in new places and looking for what I would call best-in-class distribution in these categories."
Coming off of the first quarter in June where the company turned from a $4.1 million net loss to a net income of $2.4 million, the company reported a second quarter profit of $5.1 million, compared to $5.7 million during Q2 2015. Looking ahead, Wallstrom said "the third fiscal quarter will be an exciting and important one for our company and our brand. We are beginning the launch of Vera Bradley’s new brand positioning which we believe will lay the foundation for positive comparable sales growth by the end of the fiscal year. Our comprehensive marketing initiatives, new SoHo flagship store, refreshes of key full-line stores, and launch of our new verabradley.com digital flagship will all be drivers of our growth."
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