City Chic broadens US reach with e-commerce acquisition

Over a year after divesting the Millers, Crossroads, Katies, Autograph and Rivers businesses to Noni B, and putting more focus on its flagship plus-size brand, City Chic Collective has announced it will acquire US specialty retailer Avenue’s e-commerce assets.

The US Bankruptcy Court approved the brand’s proposed US$16.5 million acquisition of Avenue’s assets after the brand entered chapter 11 bankruptcy in August.

City Chic runs operates more than 104 physical stores across New Zealand and Australia, and operates in the USA online as well as through wholesale partnerships with major US retailers such as Macys and Nordstrom.

According to City Chic, the acquisition will provide the business with a broader reach within the US plus size market, and expects it will deliver accretive growth for the business’ international operations. 

“Avenue’s e-commerce assets represent a unique opportunity to accelerate our US customer growth and expand across plus size segments,” City Chic chief executive Phil Ryan said. 

“This acquisition delivers on our vision of ‘leading a world of curves’. It means that City Chic now has a portfolio, or a collective, of online business that we can leverage to further build our Northern Hemisphere presence.

“Our City Chic, Avenue and Hips & Curves brands will allow us to speak to more plus size women and deliver on-trend, well-fitting garments across multiple price points.”

Online sales across New Zealand, Australia and the US made up 44 per cent of total sales for City Chic in FY19.

In April, City Chic also acquired US online plus-size intimates brand Hips & Curves for US$2 million. 

The shift away from multi-brand retailing toward a more focused approach has made a significant impact on City Chic’s performance – with stock price rising from approximately 80 cents in June of 2018, when the Specialty Fashion divestments were made, to $2.80 per share last week. 

The retailer posted strong sales over its first year as a standalone business, with revenue improving 12.6 per cent to $148.4 million, while comparable sales grew 12.2 per cent. 

This is an edited version of a story from Inside Retail Australia.

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