Barneys rebrands, expands home and kids offering
Barneys is among New York City’s iconic department stores, but its legacy isn’t enough to sustain it in an era of e-commerce and fierce competition from specialty retailers in the luxury space operating online and off.
The upscale retailer debuted its funky, immersive “thedrop@barneys“ last year in New York and sent it to the West Coast this year in an effort to attract a demographic not accustomed to frequenting department stores. And in April, the company announced an eight-episode podcast, dubbed “In Conversation,” among the first retailers to wade into the medium.
Monied millennials (and even Gen Z) are happy to shell out for luxury goods. Millennials and Gen Z will account for 45% of the global luxury goods market by 2025, according to a study last year by PMX Agency.
The retailer also isn’t facing the challenges of larger rivals in the segment. As Macy’s contends with fewer sales after shuttering a whopping 100 locations, for example, Barneys has remained leaner and nimbler, reaping the benefits of being a luxury retailer with just a few locations, almost exclusively in downtown centers of larger cities.
Barneys New York operates flagship stores uptown on Madison Avenue and downtown in Chelsea, plus locations in Beverly Hills, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco and Las Vegas, and 15 other stores and outlets across the U.S., according to its release. Under private ownership, it’s not clear how Barneys is doing these days, although Fortune in 2016 declared the company had staged “a remarkable comeback.” That year, the company opened a store on the same block in lower Manhattan where its flagship stood for three quarters of a century.
Barneys has also worked to rationalize its assortment to differentiate its merchandise and avoid heavy discounts. Two years ago, for example, the company offered 41% fewer new handbag lines over the holidays, after boosting its assortment by 46% the previous year.