Neiman Marcus: Business Overview
Neiman Marcus is a privately-held luxury retailer that offers men's and women's apparel, designer jewelry, cosmetics and fragrances, home furnishings and decor, and other luxury items through its retail and direct marketing channels.
Neiman Marcus' operations are divided into two segments, Specialty Retail Stores and Direct Marketing.
Specialty Retail Stores
Neiman Marcus Stores
Neiman Marcus stores offer luxury merchandise, including women's couture and designer apparel, contemporary sportswear, handbags, fashion accessories, shoes, cosmetics, men's clothing and furnishings, precious and designer jewelry, decorative home accessories, fine china, crystal and silver, children's apparel, and gift items.
Bergdorf Goodman Stores
Bergdorf Goodman is an upscale retailer that offers couture merchandise such as high-end apparel, fashion accessories, shoes, traditional and contemporary decorative home accessories, precious and designer jewelry, cosmetics, and gift items.
Last Call Stores
Through the Last Call outlets, the company sells end-of-season and other clearance items such as apparel, shoes, jewelry, handbags, luggage, and furniture at discount prices.
Neiman Marcus operates 6 stores under the CUSP brand. CUSP stores have a smaller format (6,000-11,000 sq. ft.) and target a younger customer base. Beginning in 2012, Neiman Marcus began to rebrand the contemporary departments within Neiman Marcus stores as CUSP.
Horchow Finale Stores
Horchow is a furniture and home decor brand owned by Neiman Marcus. Horchow items are sold at Horchow stores and in some Neiman Marcus locations.
Neiman Marcus Direct Marketing
The Direct Marketing segment of Neiman Marcus operates e-commerce sites under the Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Horchow, Last Call and CUSP brands. In addition, Neiman Marcus offers direct-to-consumer sales through its catalogs for the Neiman Marcus and Horchow brands. While the company has decreased circulation of its catalogs as online sales have increased, the company still circulated approximately 45 million catalogs as of 2011. The Direct Marketing operation significantly improves the ability of the company to extend its reach, as approximately 40% of online and catalog customers were located outside the trade areas of Neiman Marcus' existing retail locations.
Notable vendors include: Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani, St. John, Akris, Escada, Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Tory Burch, Balenciaga, La Mer, Sisley, Bobbi Brown, La Prairie, Estee Lauder, Laura Mercier, Brioni, Tom Ford, Loro Piana, Ferragamo, Stefano Ricci, David Yurman, John Hardy, and Cartier.
In addition to the company's traditional offerings of luxury apparel and merchandise, the company also offers "fantasy gifts" through its catalogs, which have included a custom-made library from Assoluine, Johnny Walker Scotch tasting parties and bespoke Ferrari cars.
The majority of the Neiman Marcus merchandise is received from vendors as finished goods. Merchandise is manufactured in Europe and the United States and, to a lesser extent, China, Mexico, and South America.
The majority of the company's merchandise is initially received at one of several centralized distribution facilities. To support the Specialty Retail Stores segment, Neiman Marcus utilizes a primary distribution facility in Longview, Texas, a regional distribution facility in Dayton, New Jersey and four regional service centers. Neiman Marcus also operates two distribution facilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to support the Direct Marketing operation.
The specialty retail industry is highly competitive and fragmented. Neiman Marcus competes with other specialty retailers including Saks Fifth Avenues, Barney's New York, as well as high-end department stores including Nordstrom and Bloomingdales. Additionally, the company competes with national apparel chains, vendor-owned proprietary boutiques and direct marketing firms.
Neiman Marcus competes primarily on product quality and fashion and in an increasingly fragmented luxury apparel market, product pricing and shipping costs.
The opportunity for domestic expansion is limited because Neiman Marcus already operates stores in the most affluent communities in the U.S. that are able to support the luxury retailer. However, the company opened three Last Call stores in strip centers and power centers in 2012. In addition, the company plans to open a 100,000 square foot store in Garden City, NY. The Long Island location will be the company's first and it is expected to open in 2015.
In March 2012, Neiman Marcus purchased a non-controlling stake in Glamour Sales Holdings, an Asia-based e-commerce company which operates flash sales websites in Asia including the leading flash sales e-commerce site in Japan. Through this strategic stake, Neiman Marcus intends to launch a full-price luxury e-commerce website in China. While the flash sales site and luxury e-commerce site will remain separate, Neiman Marcus hopes to capitalize on Glamour Holdings' existing base of more than 1 million active customers.
Both China and Japan represent an attractive market for Neiman Marcus given their large population, growing middle class, luxury appetite and affinity for foreign brands. By developing its brand internationally, Neiman Marcus also hopes to make Chinese and Japanese consumers more aware of Neiman Marcus when they travel overseas.
At the end of 2012, Neiman Marcus announced that it would grow its online reach internationally to 100 countries through a partnership with FiftyOne Global Ecommerce, a technology company that helps retailers transact online with customers outside the United States.
New Product Offerings
In late 2011, Neiman Marcus launched NM on the Go, in-store boutiques that offer activewear including active tops, bottoms and jackets, fleece wear, swimsuits, and sports bras. In addition to apparel underthe Neiman Marcus label, the company offers fashionable workout clothing from Payne, Aryn Glasser, Splits 59 and Zobha, among other vendors.
Neiman Marcus has also expanded its product range in its contemporary department, which the company has rebranded as CUSP, the sub-brand used for its smaller-format stores.
In 2012, Neiman Marcus launched its NM Service location-aware application that alerts sales associates when customers enter the store, giving the associates instant access to their customers' shopping history. As consumers are increasingly willing to share personal information including purchase history, biometric fit and style choices, sales associates are better able to tailer the product range they present to shoppers.
New Payment Methods
Following turbulent years of recession and a disappointing recovery, Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz announced in October, 2011 that Neiman Marcus would be accepting Master Card and Visa. Formerly accepting only cash, American Express, and the Neiman Marcus credit card, the luxury retailer stated that many customers had persistently requested for a wider credit card acceptance. In July 2012, the company also began accepting Discover cards.
The acceptance of new credit cards has paralleled similar efforts the company has recently taken to appeal to a less affluent customer base, especially to younger shoppers.
Target + Neiman Marcus Partnership
For the 2012 Christmas season, Neiman Marcus partnered with Target, a discount retailer, to launch the Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection. Neiman Marcus and Target worked with 24 designers from the Council of Fashion Designers of America to offer a collection of men's, women's, and children's apparel and accessories at all Neiman Marcus and Target stores. The collection also included sporting goods, home decor, pet accessories, and electronics accessories. Participating designers included Carolina Herrera, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, and Tory Burch.
As a retailer of luxury and discretionary goods, Neiman Marcus' growth is highly dependent on the level of consumer spending, especially among its affluent customer base. Neiman Marcus was significantly impacted by the economic downturn beginning in 2008, experiencing a decline in revenues of more than 20% over 2009. While revenues and profits recovered a little since then, Neiman Marcus still remains vulnerable to a continuation or worsening of global economic conditions.
As a result of the 2005 leveraged buyout, Neiman Marcus' capital structure is highly leveraged. By the end of the company's fiscal 2012, Neiman Marcus maintained debt obligations in excess of $2.8 billion. While Neiman Marcus has begun to recover from a significant decline in revenues arising from the 2008 economic downturn, the company must maintain this sales growth to continuously service its debt and avoid restrictive covenants and borrowing conditions.
On March 30, 2012, Neiman Marcus issued a $442.6 million dividend to a small group of shareholders including TPG Capital, Warburg Pincus, and fewer than 50 current and former executives. Neiman Marcus financed the dividend with $150 million in borrowings from its asset-based revolving credit facility, while the rest was paid with cash on hand. The payment of a dividend signals that the company's equity partners are eager to profit from their investment.
Neiman Marcus' multi-faceted and aggressive growth strategy and recent financial growth have led to rumors that the company is exploring a potential IPO. Neiman Marcus' private equity owners, Warburg Pincus and TPG Capital, are looking for an exit strategy after acquiring Neiman for $5.1 billion in 2005. Neiman was estimated to be worth around $4 billion at the end of 2012. An acquisition is unlikely since competing retailers passed over the opportunity in 2005. Private equity firms have not expressed interest either. Starting in August 2012, Neiman's owners have been looking at an IPO to cash out.
Following poor performance during the economic downturn, Neiman's financial performance has improved. Revenue grew in 2012 in large part due to improving economic conditions as well as growth in e-commerce revenue streams. Neiman Marcus has also moved towards younger and less wealthy markets to expand revenue. Additionally, Neiman has succeeded in paying down some of its debt from its 2005 leveraged buyout.
Michigan Ave. Renovation Efforts
On October 12, 2012, Neiman Marcus announced that its flagship Michigan Avenue location would be undergoing a two-year multimillion-dollar renovation that will dramatically change the 29-year-old store's layout and bring in new designers. This renovation was originally scheduled for 2008, but stalled due to worsening economic conditions. The renovation will be ongoing until June 2014, with various sections of each of the four floors undergoing construction while the store remains open. The main function of the renovation is for the company to add twelve new designer shops to the third floor, to consolidate the men's product section, and to make more efficient use of its existing retail space.
2012 Holiday Partnership with Target Stores
For the 2012 holiday season, Neiman Marcus partnered with mass-market department store chain Target to offer a special apparel and accessories collection from two dozen leading fashion designers, offered exclusively at both chains. The two companies invested in a large marketing campaign with an aura of exclusivity, and limited each shopper to just five items each. However, the sales results proved disappointing.
Immediately following the Christmas holiday, Target began cutting prices by 50 percent on many of the products from designers like Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, and Diane von Furstenberg, and the cap on items per shopper was quietly lifted. The partnership is unlikely to be repeated.
FTC Settlement Over Faux Fur
In early 2013, Neiman Marcus agreed to settle with the FTC over claims that the company was falsely advertising certain products as including faux fur when in fact real animal fur was included. The agreement did not require any fees, but any subsequent violations could carry fees from $10,000 to $20,000.
Neiman Marcus Company History
Neiman Marcus Group's Origin and Growth
The first Neiman Marcus store was opened in 1907 in Dallas, Texas, by Herbert Marcus, his sister Carrie Neiman, and her husband Al Neiman. Initially, the store sold profitable women's apparel that was not commonly found in Texas. In 1913, a fire destroyed the first store. However, a temporary store was opened nearby, and in 1914, a permanent new building was ready for operation. The company made a profit of $40,000 on sales of $700,000 at the new location. Despite the new location, the store was able to double its profit from the original location.
The store continued to sell upscale apparel and soon gained a reputation for its merchandise outside of Texas. In 1926, after Carrie and Al Neiman divorced, the Marcus family bought Neiman's share in the store and remained the top management for the next 60 years. In 1927, the company acquired more property and, in 1928, added men's apparel to its products through the Men's Shop. The store's net sales had touched $3.6 million by the end of the decade.
1930s-1940s: Shift in Strategy
In the 1930s, as a result of the Great Depression, Neiman Marcus began to stock low-priced merchandise along with its high-end clothing lines. This enabled the company to broaden its customer base and survive the recession. This strategy saw the company grow strongly and break the $5 million mark in annual sales by 1938. During this decade, the Men's Shop was also expanded, first in 1934 and then again in 1941.
In the 1940s, the company added lower end merchandise to its inventory to attract workers with high paying defense manufacturing jobs in Dallas. A new wave of middle-class consumers had arrived in the region as a result of World War II. During 1942-44, the company's sales grew from $6 million to $11 million. Later, the company opened more stores in Dallas.
In 1946, another major fire occurred at the store and caused substantial damage. Despite the store being closed for five days during peak Christmas shopping days, the company recorded its best season to date that year.
1950s-1960s: New Markets
In the 1950s, Herbert Marcus's son, Stanley Marcus, took over the company and started new stores as part of his strategy to expand into new markets. In 1951, a second Neiman Marcus store was opened at Preston Center in the suburbs of Dallas. The following year, the company opened a new service building to handle merchandise for both stores. Three years later, the company extended its operations to Houston by merging with Ben Wolfman's, an existing store there. In 1957, the annual Neiman Marcus Fortnight?a presentation of fashions and culture from a particular country?was launched.
In 1960, the His and Hers gift selection was added to the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. Over the years, this gift selection has had items such as submarines, dirigibles, and robots. In 1964, there was another fire during Christmas season at the main store in Dallas. The company opened a bigger store at North Park Center after closing the store at Preston Center. It started another store in Fort Worth as well. The company's profit for 1967 was more than $2 million. The combined annual sales were $58.5 million.
1968: Merger with Broadway-Hale Stores
In 1968, the company merged with West Coast retail chain Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc., which was previously named Carter Hawley Hale Stores. At the time, Carter Hawley Hale had revenues of $457 million. The merger enabled Neiman Marcus to open one store a year across the U.S.
1980s: Troubled Times
By 1980, the company's annual sales had reached $350 million and by 1984, the company was operating 21 stores. However, the company's competitors (e.g. Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue) were doing much better than the new stores. In 1984, the company became the target of a hostile takeover bid by The Limited Brands group. The Limited offered to buy the company for $1.1 billion. General Cinema Corporation helped the company resist the takeover by buying 38.6% of the company's voting stock.
In 1986, The Limited made another attempt to takeover the company by teaming with shopping center magnate Edward DeBartolo. However, the company thwarted this attempt by spinning off its specialty store division into an independent, publicly traded company called The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. General Cinema received a 60% interest in the new company in exchange for its Carter Hawley stock. In addition to its namesake Neiman Marcus stores, the new company was also comprised of upscale New York retailer Bergdorf Goodman and the 200-store Contempo Casuals chain. A majority of the group's sales still came from the Neiman Marcus stores. In 1988, the group bought Horchow Mail Order, a cataloger based in Dallas, specializing in upscale home furnishings, and linens.
1990s: New Expansions
By 1990, the group was contributing to 90% of General Cinema's operating profit. The group also opened new stores in Denver, Minneapolis; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Troy, Michigan. In 1993, the company's revenue was $1.45 billion, a 12.7% jump from 1992. This was partly due to the company stocking its inventory with big-name designer labels, such as Calvin Klein, Georgio Armani, and Donna Karan. That same year, General Cinema changed its name to Harcourt General, Inc.
During this decade, the company launched NM Workshop boutiques to broaden its customer base. To attract new and younger customers, the boutiques focused on career wardrobes. It continued expanding by opening stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In 1995, the company sold its Contempo Casuals business, which was running on a loss, to Wet Seal, Inc. for $1 million in Wet Seal stock.
By 1996, the company had 29 Neiman Marcus stores and operating earnings of $134 million on record sales of $1.6 billion. That same year, the company introduced The Book which had the combined features of a catalog and a magazine. The monthly circulation of The Book touched 1.2 million by mid-1997.
1998: Introduction of Smaller Stores
In 1998, the company acquired Chef's Catalog for $31 million in cash. This acquisition helped in the growth of Neiman Marcus Direct, the company's direct mail operation. Chef's Catalog sold high-end kitchenware. During the same period, the company opened three smaller stores for smaller markets under the name The Galleries of Neiman Marcus. These stores offered precious and designer jewelry, gifts, and decorative home accessories and were opened in Cleveland, Ohio; Phoenix, Arizona; and Seattle, Washington. This was done because designers such as Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Prada had started competing with the company by opening their own retail outlets.
In 1998, the company spent approximately $200 million on stakes in new brands. In 1998, it spent $6.7 million to buy a 51% stake in Gurwitch Bristow Products, LLC. Gurwitch Bristow was the maker and marketer of the Laura Mercier cosmetic line.
In February 1999, the company purchased a 56% stake in Kate Spade LLC for $33.6 million. Kate Spade reported total revenue of $27 million in 1998. Upon the completion of the acquisition, the three founding partners of Kate Spade controlled the remaining stake in the company and were entrusted with the task of overseeing the company's day-to-day operations.
That same year, Neiman Marcus launched its e-commerce website.
2000s: Change in Ownership
In 2000 and 2001, the company opened new stores in Palm Beach and Tampa, Florida. For the fiscal year ending July 2001, the company's revenue was $3.02 billion. However, the following year, a weak economy coupled with the 9/11 incident affected the company's profit margin. In April 2002, Harcourt General liquidated its 14.2% stake in the company for approximately $128 million. That same year, the company announced the closure of its Galleries store in Seattle. Subsequently, the other two stores in Phoenix and Cleveland were also closed.
2004: Sale of Chef's Catalog to JH Partners Controlled Entity
In November 2004, the company sold its direct marketing business, Chef's Catalog, to private equity firm JH Partners LLC. From this transaction, the company received approximately $14.4 million, excluding selling costs. At the time of its sale, this business had total tangible assets of around $12.5 million and intangible assets of $17.2 million. The disposition of Chef's Catalog led to a pretax loss of $15.3 million for Neiman Marcus, primarily due to higher carrying value of Chef's Catalog's assets than sales proceeds from the transaction.
2005: TPG and Warburg Pincus LLC acquire Neiman Marcus
In 2005 Neiman Marcus Group began to garner interest from private equity firms to take the company private. As a result, The Neiman Marcus Group engaged an investment bank to conduct an auction process. Eight private equity firms expressed serious interest, but wanted to join together to make the bid. The Neiman Marcus Group decided to limit the size of each group to two bidders each in an attempt to maximize competition and therefore the final purchase price. As a result, four groups of two firms each submitted bids for the company. In May 2005, The Neiman Marcus Group announced that its Board of Directors approved a definitive agreement to sell the company to Texas Pacific Group (TPG) and Warburg Pincus LLC. The two firms agreed to pay $100 per share in cash for outstanding Class A and Class B shares of the company. This deal cost the two investment firms approximately $5.3 billion. After completing the deal, both companies held equal stake in Neiman Marcus. The Smith Family, owner of a significant portion of outstanding common stock, entered into a separate agreement. As per the agreement they would vote in favor of the merger. While Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan acted as financial advisors to Neiman Marcus and its Board of Directors, respectively, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP served as a legal advisor.
2013: Neiman Marcus exits eBay
In March 2013, Neiman Marcus permanently moved away from eBay after it failed to meet the retailer's expectations. Neiman Marcus was among the first "fashion outlets" eBay launched in the U.S. in 2011, selling clothing shoes and accessories under its discount-price brand, Last Call by Neiman Marcus.