Consumer Products

Retail Radar: Club Libby Lu sitting pretty with wannabe princesses

With 62 new stores opening by the end of the year, Club Libby Lu looks well-placed to add a little sparkle to the U.S. retail market. The tween apparel chain, which specializes in turning ordinary girls into princesses, owes its rapid expansion to a capital infusion from Saks, which picked up the chain of 11 outlets in May for US$12 million.
September 1, 2004

With 62 new stores opening by the end of the year, Club Libby Lu looks well-placed to add a little sparkle to the U.S. retail market. The tween apparel chain, which specializes in turning ordinary girls into princesses, owes its rapid expansion to a capital infusion from Saks, which picked up the chain of 11 outlets in May for US$12 million.

One of most popular areas of the 14,000-square-foot stores is the Style Studio, where girls can book theme parties or get makeovers. There are three styles to choose from year-round, as well as a rotating seasonal theme, such as a cheerleader for back-to-school, or a sugar plum fairy at Christmas. The US$20 to US$30 makeovers include hair styling, makeup application and a key accessory (like a glittery Britney-style headset for the Rock Star Princess).

The rest of the store is planned around hot trends and activities, with a costume area for girls ages two to six at the back, a fairly even split between apparel and room décor in the center, and Libby’s Lab – where girls can mix up their own shower gel and lip gloss – up front.

Libby Lu doesn’t stock licensed items, preferring to develop proprietary brands à la the Gap instead. ‘We try to differentiate ourselves from the Limited Toos of the world by sticking with really over-the-top apparel featuring a lot of glitter and fur trim,’ says executive VP of merchandising and marketing Tina Spagnola, pegging an ostrich-trimmed cardigan and pink, glittery high tops with marabou accents as hot sellers for the fall.

In décor, canopies and door curtains are really moving, and Spagnola says the company will expand this section for Q4 with items like plush comforters and matching bed sheets.

Like most retailers, the bulk of Club Libby Lu’s sales occur in Q4. But Spagnola breaks her buying into four quarters, hitting the apparel markets and finishing her Q4 buy in August, and then wrapping up the spring/summer line by November.

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