The Big Did Get Bigger in 2008, but solid growth — or any growth — was hardly a sure thing. Many companies on the Multichannel Merchant 100 list this year reported flat sales vs. 2007. And quite a few marketers suffered a drop in revenue.
The big gainer was no doubt Staples (#4), which was up from $6.61 billion to $8.90 billion for 2008. But that’s due to its June 2008 acquisition of Corporate Express.
Corporate Express isn’t the only mailer off the list thanks to an acquisition. Dr. Leonard’s Healthcare Corp. now falls under AmeriMark Holdings, a fellow merchant of home healthcare products for seniors. AmeriMark’s December 2007 purchase of Dr. Leonard’s helped vault it from #90 last year to #53.
Direct Marketing Services Inc. (DMSI) is gone, literally. The assets of the multititle mailer (#85 last year) were sold at public auction in August to Midwest Catalog Brands, a subsidiary of Swiss Colony (#42). The purchase included the venerable Montgomery Ward brand and the Charles Keath and HomeVisions catalogs and Internet properties.
And Charming Shoppes barely made it onto the list at #98. It had been #57 last year, but it sold most of the Crosstown Traders catalogs to Orchard Brands in September.
Looking at general trends, the continued housing slump put a crimp in demand for home goods in 2008. This hurt merchants such as Williams-Sonoma (#24). Its direct sales fell from $1.7 billion in 2007 to $1.4 billion in 2008.
Home products retailer Crate & Barrel (#66), meanwhile, did post a small gain, from $321 million to $324 million. It may have helped that Crate & Barrel’s price points are lower than some of its rivals.
Women’s apparel also saw softness. Sales at Coldwater Creek (#72) fell 28% to $272 million, while direct sales at Talbots (#81) slipped 44% to $239 million. Sales at J. Crew (#55), however, were up 8% to $409 million. And Urban Outfitters (#73), which sells apparel and home items, saw sales rise 42% to $273 million.
Computers marketers lost some ground too. Sales at CDW Corp. (#5) slipped a bit, from $8.15 billion to $8.10 billion in 2008. PC Connection (#19) also saw revenue fall slightly, from $1.78 billion in 2007 to $1.75 billion in 2008. But Zones (#39) boosted its sales from $680 million to about $728 million.
It wasn’t a great year for some of the office supplies marketers. Staples’ big gain notwithstanding, two of the merchants in the top 10 — OfficeMax (#9) and Office Depot (#10) — posted declines in revenue of 11% and 8%, respectively. Given the number of layoffs in the past year, it’s easy to see why there is lower demand for office supplies.