Mike Armstrong: Lilly Pulitzer sales as bright as its colors

Posted: April 05, 2013

King of Prussia-based Lilly Pulitzer is proving to be a stylish pocket of retail growth for parent company Oxford Industries Inc.

When Oxford reported its fiscal 2012 financial results earlier this week, the company positively cooed over Lilly Pulitzer's "year of extraordinary growth."

Net sales at Lilly Pulitzer, which designs and distributes brightly colored apparel and accessories, rose 30 percent to $122.6 million for the year ended Feb. 2, from $94.5 million the previous year. E-commerce accounted for more than 20 percent of those annual sales.

Not bad for what is now a 20-store chain that Atlanta-based Oxford bought for $60 million in December 2010.

In addition to having its headquarters in King of Prussia, Lilly Pulitzer has a store at the Plaza and a 65,000-square-foot distribution center. The chain has a second local store at Ardmore's Suburban Square.

The fashion brand opened four stores in 2012, its first new shops since 2009. Oxford chief executive Thomas Chubb told analysts on a conference call the company plans to open four to six Lilly Pulitzers each year for the "foreseeable future."

After opening a store in Hackensack, N.J., earlier this week, Lilly Pulitzer said it was on track to debut company-owned stores in Cincinnati and Durham, N.C., in May. They are small as stores go, from 2,200 square feet to 2,800 square feet.

Lilly Pulitzer itself is lilliputian next to Tommy Bahama, another of Oxford's brands with a warm weather/resorts image. Tommy Bahama remains Oxford's biggest source of sales, with 113 stores. Net sales for Tommy Bahama rose 17 percent to $528.6 million last year.

Still, a cold March had Oxford and other retailers preaching caution over projected sales growth for 2013. Oxford expects percentage net sales increases in the low teens for both Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer for fiscal 2013.

Investors seemed to shrug off the sales outlook, with Oxford's shares rising in the two trading sessions after the earnings report. Shares closed at $54.78, up 83 cents Thursday.

Contact Mike Armstrong

at 215-854-2980 or marmstrong@phillynews.com, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at www.phillyinc.biz.


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