STRATEGIES: Frederick’s, take two

Racy mailer tones down even more

After several fits and starts, the makeover of $148 million cataloger/retailer Frederick’s of Hollywood continues. “Frederick’s was perceived as borderline adult catalog,” says Danielle Savin, the recently hired vice president of catalog. “But we are treating the catalog as a female apparel book that sells clothing, lingerie, and swimwear.”

Former CEO Terry Patterson began the transformation in 1998, modifying the product mix to include less of the tarty lingerie the company was known for and more mainstream day apparel. But in March ’99, less than 18 months after hiring Patterson, Frederick’s fired her. (Patterson claimed she was fired without just cause and filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, a suit that Frederick’s won.)

Meanwhile, in June, Frederick’s hired Linda LoRe, former president/ CEO of upscale retailer Giorgio Beverly Hills, as CEO. Her mandate is to continue the mainstreaming of Frederick’s. In keeping with this philosophy, Frederick’s is renting more apparel and swimwear lists. Owners of such lists used to refuse to rent to Frederick’s, claiming that its catalog would offend their customers. But, Savin says, “few list owners turned us down this year.”

Frederick’s is mailing 20 million copies of its spring book, the same amount as last spring. But the company is trying to better target its mailings. “We took more dollar selects compared to average-order selects to drive sales and response,” Savin says.

On the merchandising front, Frederick’s has taken on Victoria’s Secret’s much-hyped Miracle Bra with the June launch of the H subscript2 0 Waterbra, which features water-filled inner pockets. So far, sales of the H subscript 2 0 are up 20% from sales of regular bras.

Not that Frederick’s has changed entirely. Crotchless panties and marabou-trimmed thongs still grace the pages of the catalog. In fact, the company is considering spinning off a book devoted entirely to its racier items.

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