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May 16, 2018

Walmart Goes Upscale, Offering Lord & Taylor Brands - May 16, 2018. | NYT | DealBook/ Business& Policy

nytimes.com

 

 Walmart Goes Upscale, Offering Lord & Taylor Brands


Lord & Taylor is teaming up with Walmart to create an online store on Walmart.com that will offer about 125 fashion brands, including Tommy Bahama, La La Anthony, H Halston and Effy.CreditBenjamin Norman for The New York Times
Lord & Taylor, the once leading fashion retailer that has been fading, considers itself a trailblazer. It was one of the first major retailers to install an elevator in its store and was one of the first to hire a woman as president.
Now, Lord & Taylor has unveiled another milestone, although one that speaks less to the retailer’s glory days and more to the challenges of modern retailing.
Lord & Taylor is teaming up with Walmart to create an online store on Walmart.com that will offer about 125 fashion brands, including Tommy Bahama, La La Anthony, H Halston and Effy.
Billed by both companies as a “premium” shopping destination, the new online store reflects Lord & Taylor’s desire to reach a wider audience and Walmart’s hope to attract a different type of customer.
In April, the Lord & Taylor website attracted roughly 2.2 million unique visitors, a tiny fraction of the 101 million visitors to Walmart.com, according to comScore, a media measurement company. But its brands are typically more upscale than many of those found at Walmart.
Other struggling retailers have found similar outlets for their products on Amazon. J.Crew sells clothes on the site and Sears has recently started selling its DieHard tires.
“This is a tremendous growth opportunity,” R.J. Cilley, a senior vice president of digital at Lord & Taylor said in a conference call on Tuesday. “We are growing our footprint to reach exponentially more customers.”
For Walmart, the partnership is the latest attempt to reach a more urbane shopper. As part of that effort, Walmart has made a string of acquisitions over the past year, purchasing the clothing sites Bonobos and Modcloth and starting its own bedding and mattress line, sold exclusively online.
Walmart has also recently redesigned its website, giving it a more sleek and modern look. Navy blues and grays have replaced the bright blue and yellow sunshine logos that decorate the company’s hulking stores.
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The new online store is being billed by both companies as a “premium” shopping destination and reflects Lord & Taylor’s desire to reach a wider audience than its current website affords.CreditWalmart
It is difficult to find the word Walmart anywhere on the site — an omission that seems anything but accidental, as the giant retailer seeks to rebrand itself for the modern era.
The Lord & Taylor online store on Walmart.com is expected to open in the coming weeks. Lord & Taylor will be responsible for shipping the clothing to customer’s homes. It will continue to sell the same brands in its stores and on its own website at the same prices as it does on Walmart.com.
The two companies declined to disclose financial details of their partnership, like how the revenue would be shared for each piece of Lord & Taylor clothing sold on Walmart.com.
For decades, Walmart built a retail empire as the store offering the lowest prices on staples like toothpaste, milk and cat litter.
But today, the company has higher aspirations — including making its website a “destination for fashion,” said Denise Incandela, head of fashion for Walmart’s e-commerce operations in the United States.
Like many retailers, Walmart is looking to increase its sales beyond its brick-and-mortar stores and find ways to slow Amazon’s steady march toward global e-commerce domination. Last week, Walmart announced it was spending $16 billion to purchase a controlling stake in Flipkart, the leading eCommerce provider in India.
Lord & Taylor, which is part of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which also owns Saks Fifth Avenue, has also been making big moves to survive. It just hired a new president, Vanessa LeFebvre, an executive from the online clothing subscription Stitch Fix, to rethink its strategy for a digital age.
Late last year, Hudson’s Bay sold the historic flagship Lord & Taylor store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to the office-sharing company WeWork. Lord & Taylor will still operate a store in a portion of the building, but much of the space will be used for offices catering to millennials and start-ups and a headquarters for the fast-growing WeWork.
On Tuesday, Lord & Taylor executives referred to their site on the Walmart website as a new kind of “flagship” store.
“This innovative flagship on Walmart.com is an entirely new model for us and demonstrates the evolution of Lord & Taylor,” Mr. Cilley said in the statement.
A version of this article appears in print on