STRATEGIES: More Bank books, more Bank bucks

In October ’99, when Robert N. Wildrick took over as CEO of Jos. A. Bank, the Hampstead, MD-based men’s clothier was suffering from flagging catalog and retail sales. Jos. A. Bank’s overall third-quarter sales decreased 1.9% from the third quarter of 1998; only a 140% increase in online sales (representing an unconfirmed total of about $12 million) kept the multichannel marketer’s nine-month sales a meager 1.3% ahead of 1998 levels.

But just two months later, the company enjoyed the best December in its 95-year history. And in January, it ended its fiscal fourth quarter with a 5.5% sales gain over the previous fourth quarter.

Wildrick credits the turnaround to an increase in catalog circulation and an ensuing jump in Bank’s catalog sales. “When I came, I found circulation had been cut,” he says. That changed immediately. “Going forward, we will not be cutting catalog circulation.” In fact, Jos. A. Bank will return to prospecting this year, although Wildrick won’t release any specific figures.

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