Silver linings to Alfred Angelo storm

In the weeks since that infamous day when AA pulled the rug out from under their wholesale and retail customers, we have heard numerous tales of disquiet, worry and out right panic from AA accounts, and non-accounts alike.

Many refunded thousands of dollars to brides and maids unwilling to accept a replacement gown, devoted hours and days to appeasing, serving and consoling, and reported that brides unaffected by AA (and those newly shopping for their gowns) openly questioned employees and owners about the financial health of their stores.

Though this is hands down the worst event to hit the industry, there are silver linings to the Alfred Angelo storm clouds: competitors that have never spoken to one another now work together to help each other and their brides; and the potential of independent stores picking up the market share previously siphoned off by Angelo’s 60+ stores.

AA was reported to have had approximately $70 million in sales in 2015… with about $50 million in revenue generated by its chain of stores. Very simple math indicates revenue per store averaging $800,000 per year, which could translate to 600-800 brides per year.

Granted we don’t know what AA’s 2016 revenue numbers were, nor do we know what percentage of those sales were special order versus off the rack (though I suspect the majority were cash and carry)… yet no matter how basic the interpretation, the closing of AA stores is good news in the long run for those independent, community-involved bridal stores who have long competed against AA on a playing field that was hardly level

David’s Bridal may also benefit from this market turmoil… but in my opinion it will be in the short term, and primarily with current AA brides, as brides new to the market may see in them the same circumstances as AA… and tar them with the same brush.

At the risk of repeating myself, this is a narrative we all need to emphasize to employees, brides, media, friends…

The closure of Alfred Angelo stores is another example of the dire straits today's national chain store retail operations are in.

It is not an indictment of bridal retail.

It is Main Street specialty and full service bridal retailers with strong ties to the local community that make up the strength and stability of bridal retail... and ultimately it is they that will clean up the mess left by big box national chain stores.

 

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