Angelica spins off Life Uniform title

After failing to find a buyer, Chesterfield, MO-based business apparel manufacturer/marketer Angelica Corp. took a different tack: it introduced another catalog to its stable. In September, Angelica mailed 1 million copies of its new Life Uniform catalog.

The 32-page catalog sells scrubs, smocks, and apparel for healthcare professionals – as do the company’s 300 Life Uniform stores in 37 states. In addition, Angelica produces the Image Collection, Extending Your Stay, and Angelica Image Apparel catalogs of uniforms for the healthcare and hospitality industries.

Nearly three-quarters of the Life Uniform mailings went to names from Angelica’s house file, with the remaining 25% sent to prospects from rented healthcare and hospital lists. With the new catalog – and a revamped Website, which debuted in September – Life Uniform aims to tap into the 25% of nurses and other healthcare workers who shop through catalogs on the Web.

“We have always sent direct mail pieces, but through inhouse modeling we found that 60%-70% of our house file bought through other catalogs,” says Joan Dietrich, vice president of merchandising and marketing. “By mailing catalogs to states where we don’t have a store, we can better acquire new customers.”

Although at press time it was too soon to quantify results, Dietrich says the mailing has exceeded expectations in at least one respect: “I didn’t count on how much the catalog would [boost] retail sales.”

Excluding its laundry services division, Angelica Corp.’s 1999 sales topped $200 million, up roughly 11% from the previous year. But the company blames price competition in the textile industry for declining profits. For the year ended Jan. 29, total net income was $5.3 million, down 40% from the previous fiscal year. Last year, Angelica hired Bank of America Securities to explore the possibility of a sale, but this past April it took itself off the selling block because it could not get what it deemed a fair price.

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