Pennington’s revamping with Wearhouse stores

Pennington's, the Toronto-based retail clothing store chain specializing in large-size apparel for women, is undergoing a major repositioning.Pennington's will close about 40 of its 120 shopping mall stores and open about 40 more high volume Wearhouse stores over the next two...

Pennington’s, the Toronto-based retail clothing store chain specializing in large-size apparel for women, is undergoing a major repositioning.

Pennington’s will close about 40 of its 120 shopping mall stores and open about 40 more high volume Wearhouse stores over the next two years.

Pennington’s has opened 36 warehouse stores, selling clearance merchandise, since the early 1970s.

As part of its repositioning strategy, Pennington’s is going to market a completely different line of clothes in the Pennington’s Wearhouses to that sold in the shopping mall stores.

The less expensive Wearhouse lines are directed at the price-conscious consumer, while the retailer’s shopping mall boutiques will remain stocked with Pennington’s more upscale clothes, including private labels.

According to Pennington’s, the shopping mall stores are directed at large-size women, aged 35-55, seeking quality and service, with an annual average household income of above $45,000.

The warehouse division is directed at women who want selection and value, and range in age from 25-45, whose household income is above $25,000.

To help differentiate between the two types of stores, Penningtons has designed a new logo for the Wearhouse division, which will be used in newspaper advertisng and on store signs.

Prism Communications is the agency.

‘They’re trying to build on the equity of the Pennington’s name, and, at the same time, set up a distinct identity for the Wearhouse division,’ says marketing consultant Mary Anne Freedman, of Freedman and Associates.

The retailer’s mall stores depend solely on their window displays for advertising, while the Wearhouses will be advertised in the newspaper and on radio.

With 5,500 to 7,000 square feet of floor space, the Wearhouse stores are two to three times larger than the shopping mall boutiques, and will offer a children’s play area, and a seating area for men.

The refurbished store that opened last week in Toronto has about 10,000 square feet of floor space, making it the largest in the chain.

Pennington’s hopes the soft mauve, pastel green and pink decor will give the stores a Sante Fe ambiance that will induce shoppers to stay longer.

The warehouses represent Pennington’s attempt to become the category killers in the large-size women’s market.

The Wearhouse stores will offer consumers the chance to buy an entire outfit, excluding shoes, at one location.

‘We are seeking a way to come back to profitability,’ says Pennington President Michael Kershaw, who recently joined Pennington’s with 30 years in the Canadian retail fashion industry.

‘The Canadian consumer today is seeking selection and value, and is moving her shopping habits out of shopping malls to power centres,’ Kershaw says.

He says the repositioning is not a pre-emptive response to a threat from u.s. retailers.

‘We are not aware at this point of any threat from the United States,’ Kershaw says. ‘There aren’t that many guys in this game.’

Pennington’s Wearhouses will usually be in areas with other warehouse distributers.

‘The average Wearhouse store does more than twice the volume, so by adding 50 Wearhouse stores and closing 40-50 shopping centre stores, it will mean the company will grow substantially in volume,’ Kershaw says.