Wedding Industry Sources agree: Everyone is Up For Sale

By Paul Pannone

An eWedNewz report involving the possible sale of a bridal manufacturer struck a nerve among bridal store owners and competitors in the wedding business. eWedNewz continues to investigate the story and found the listing portrays the manufacturer  on the market is somehow above the current economic downturn and challenges in the wedding business. According to the portrayal:

“The company is experiencing tremendous sales growth measured in both units and dollars.  Profits grew throughout the recent economic downturn, demonstrating the recession-resistant nature of the business,” according to information obtained by this newZ source.

 

Jim_Duhe

Jim Duhe of Bridal Guide Magazine agrees: everyone in the wedding business is up for sale these days.

Searches online and traffic generated by industry trade forums to the story hit the radar of of wedding sources who wanted to know what we think about what’s happening. Our thoughts agree with those of esteemed wedding industry experts who say everyone is up for sale these days, including long-time wedding personality Jim Duhe.  Duhe issued a public comment at the story saying:

“Mori Lee has been one of the most successful and efficiently managed bridal and social occasion gown manufacturers for roughly half a century. There’s no evidence that Mori Lee is the company in question. Even if it is, however, there’s no indication that the rational behind the decision to seek an investor is based upon a hardship. There’s an enormous difference between a “need” to sell and a “want” to sell. Unfounded rumors can be extremely damaging.

All of us know that our industry is facing dangerous challenges. All of us know that more effective communication between manufacturers and retailers is essential to overcoming obstacles to growth and  profitability. All of us know that whining about the issues accomplishes nothing without a positive plan for changes. The bridal industry’s problems can’t be solved by a single individual. Cooperation is imperative. The IBMA is one of the organizations created specifically to carry out change. Membership is open to all manufacturers. It’s sponsoring a casual get together in Chicago this weekend and another during the NY Market. If you’re a member, attend and bring your best thoughts with you. If you’re a manufacturer and aren’t a member, join and attend at least one of the events. Bring your ideas, your suggestions, your strategies to the table. I’m looking forward to seeing you,” writes Duhe

Last year, the owners of David’s Bridal put the company up for sale and sold a majority stake to Clayton, Dublier & Rice. An ongoing poll shows 63% of respondents feel the owners of David’s made the right move in getting out of the business. 12% of results so-far say they didn’t, while 23% say they’re uncertain. David’s is the biggest seller of wedding dresses in the United States and decided to get out of the business.

What do you think of their decision?

eWedNewz

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2013

Gown Manufacturers Have had Enough

By Paul Pannone

Since 2009 we’ve been tracking wedding-related data, information businesses, etc and how they would relate to the financial crisis of 2008. The culmination of lower standards for formal events, coupled with job losses that resulted from the collapse and a lower wish for couples to wed saw spending drop after the collapse. Not until recently have we seen a positive return to normalcy– whatever that new normalcy will be. The economic downturn exerted enormous stress on marriages at every income level.Experts say apprehension connected with unpaid bills, credit card debt and possible job or home loss  brings out the worst in people, breaking down communication and eroding affection, love and tolerance for the situation. It is unknown if the damage to the idea of marriage is permanent or short-term but the lasting effects on children who saw homes broken and squabbling over marital assets will not have a positive effect on future relationships.

Mori_LeeOne source told eWedNewz they feel Mori Lee is up for sale. Other sources disagree.

Continuing our watch, more supply than demand, increased competition and the changes impacting the wedding business are all leading to necessary changes  required to adapt to the market. We’ve been watching the changes especially in the wedding dress business, plagued by growing competition from Chinese sources selling knock-off products online. Quietly a move to rally manufacturers together to fight the barrage has been only moderately successful and is actually losing steam. Recovery of money from Pay-pal accounts and trying to cut off  transit of the products show good results but it’s impossible to calculate what percentage of recovery versus the losses exist.

Recently some manufactures have decided to execute plans to open new stores against the wishes of their accounts who don’t want the extra competition to exist. In short the wedding dress business is a mess, destined to get worse before it gets better.

eWedNewz received a tip that a major gown manufacture is up for sale. According to the tip from a source that does not wish to be identified there is a $90 million dollar designer, manufacturer and distributor of moderately priced wedding and other specialty dresses up for sale.  According to the obtained listing the company’s dresses are sold in over 2,000 wedding and specialty stores in the U.S., and are found in over another 2,500 stores internationally.  The company is well-positioned to continue its consistent organic expansion throughout the Americas, Europe and beyond.  Operating in a highly fragmented global market, the company is a solid platform for acquisitions for those buyers seeking even faster growth.

The source told eWedNewz their opinion of who the company might be:

“Mori Lee,” according to the source but did not give specific reasons why. 

Further discussion concludes any wedding dress manufacturer is ready to pack it in– at the right price– as the diminishing odds of growth, rising cost of operation and growing challenges of over seas manufacturing continue. Not to mention the shrinking demand.

 

eWedNewz

2013

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Chicago Bridal Market still the Strongest Show to date

By Paul Pannone

An eWedNewz watch over bridal markets continues to notice Chicago as the strongest of all shows to date. The March 2012  market spotlighted more than 400 lines offered by over 120 vendors, led by the most important bridal resources including recent new entries to the industry.

 

 

According to reports retail activity was healthy with buyers from all over the country in attendance.  Mon Cheri, Allure, Mori Lee, Casablanca, Maggie Sottero, Essence, Bel Aire, Eden, Mary’s, Impression reported good activity and actual sales. Some told eWedNewz it was the strongest Fall Market in years.

Discussions with manufacturers and retailers feel the healthiest companies will continue to support and attend shows that earn their business. In plain and simple terms the strong will get stronger and the weak will die.

 

eWedNewz

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2012

Winners and Whiners at Chicago Bridal Market

By Paul Pannone

The Chicago Bridal Market 2011 is called the most attended and exciting in years by some of the most successful bridal manufacturers of the business. As expected, AllureCasa Blanca, Mori Lee, Maggie Sottero and other well-established companies creating designs that favor platinum budgets saw brisk activity at their booths.

According to some buyers, the higher-end of wedding gown pricing hasn’t suffered proportionately as much as the middle, where the most congestion and competition exists. Although some of the higher-priced suppliers have added collections that take into account the current economic challenges, there are some that will argue the point by saying the luxury level has suffered just as much.

Buyers at the show told eWedNewz they’re placing their orders more carefully than ever before, considering the reliability of the company, marketing and advertising budgets and support of the products. With a sea of products available– and more reported to be launching– the daunting task of knowing what to buy from whom seems nearly impossible.

“If you add all the name brands together — there are about 1,000 different brands to know and review! These numbers aren’t exact, but this is my best guess: Bridal Gowns — 300 Maids — 130 Headpieces — 75 Accessories — 80 Mothers — 80 Prom — 95 Shoes — 40 Quinceanera– 30 Special Occasion — 105 Jewelry — 65.

That means that if a retail buyer wanted to see all 1,000, they would have to see 200 brand names a day at the Chicago market — or about one brand name every 2 and a half minutes for eight hours a day with no breaks,” according to Jim Duhe.

According to Duhe and others, attendance at the show was better than expected. Earlier this year the Las Vegas  Bridal Market was canceled due to lack of interest. Retailers and manufacturers cited the weak economy and the over-saturation of shows, along with growing competition from places like Costco in a shrinking market. Moderate traffic in Dallas, despite aggressive measures taken to fly in buyers and put them up in hotels, showed the weakness of the market earlier this year.

Buyers told eWedNewz they wanted to hold on to orders and see what the season was going to be like. Though many say sales have been “good”, no on is jumping for joy.

“This is an exciting show for us; as you know we unveiled David Tutera and boy, has it really caught on,” according to Steve Lang.

In the way of buzz and promotion, Lang led the pack and was rewarded by winning three DEBI awards for which Mon Cheri was nominated.

“Steve really does a great job with everything he does and deserves everything the company works so hard for,” said Philip Cornier. Cornier was at the show representing Magnolia Bridals in Brooklyn, New York, that recently expanded into bridal gowns after years of making bridal veils. “These days you have to do it all to be successful; there just isn’t enough business for the growing competition, so I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he told eWNz.

Philip Cornier helped to launch gowns for a veil company this season, handling everything from design, photo shoots,  web presence, publicity and sales. Gown by Magnolia tuxedo courtesy of FLOW.

 

Cornier and others said traffic at the show started off a bit slow but grew as the weekend progressed. Some wondered about how New York market will be.

“The problem with these shows is the timing. We’re already in production because we started selling way back in May,” according to Larry Warshaw of Justin Alexander.

Warshaw told eWedNewz he was a bit disappointed with the traffic in Chicago but very pleased with his business, overall. Warshaw told eWedNewz he flies selected accounts to exotic locations and shows, including Barcelona, Spain, with no obligation to buy.

Sara Morris, owner of the Something Blue shop in Alabama, says she was flown to spectacular places with zero pressure to buy. She gives Larry Warshaw and the Justin Alexander team a great review and cautioned about some of the other companies that aren’t as conducive to the success of smaller operators.

 

Larry Warshaw joins other manufacturers that weren’t happy with attendance agreeing the majority of buying is all but over by September. Sources from both the manufacturing and retail side of the wedding dress business, as well as adjunct businesses including tuxedos, say they don’t know what is going to happen to trade shows in general.

Several companies have contacted eWedNewz wanting to know more about internet marketing and direct sales to consumers. None would give their permission to be quoted but admitted traditional methods are fast becoming a thing of the past.

 

eWedNewz

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2011