Redcats testing plus-size title

Apr 01, 2006 10:30 PM  By

A new catalog from plus-size apparel retail chain Avenue is actually the brainchild of the Redcats USA catalog division of French conglomerate Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR). New York-based Redcats USA teamed with Avenue’s Rochelle Park, NJ-based parent company, United Retail, to test the catalog.

Redcats USA is no stranger to the plus-size market. Its 10 apparel and home goods titles include plus-size books Jessica London, Roaman’s, and Lane Bryant. Just last year it launch Intimate Promise, a Roaman’s spin-off selling plus-size lingerie, sleepwear, and swimsuits. But Avenue, says Redcats CEO Eric Faintreny, “addresses a customer target that we don’t currently address — generally more fashionable and younger.”

Redcats developed the 84-page Avenue catalog, which mailed in early March, rather than launch its own title because “we want to show our customers that Redcats is actively looking for business growth — looking for strong partners,” Faintreny says.

PPR had said earlier this year that it was interested in adding to its family of Redcats USA titles, which also include women’s apparel books Chadwick’s of Boston and Lerner, men’s big-and-tall apparel brand KingSize, and home catalog BrylaneHome. Last year Redcats USA mailed more than 500 million catalogs.

Faintreny would not comment as to whether the Avenue test is in anticipation of Redcats’ losing its Lane Bryant catalog next year. The trademark to that title is scheduled to revert back to Bensalem, PA-based retailer Charming Shoppes in 2007. Charming Shoppes has owned and operated the Lane Bryant stores since 2001. Its acquisition of multititle mailer Crosstown Traders last year was, as Charming Shoppes chairman/CEO/president Dorrit Bern said at the time, “a key step in our preparation for the launch of our own catalog.”

The test is not Avenue’s first catalog venture: The retailer mailed an apparel book for nearly three years before shuttering the title in 2003. At the time the company cited “a difficult outlook” for apparel catalogs, and was planning to rely on its Website to povide support for its stores.