Tom Filandro – SIG asked: For accessories, can you provide some commentary on the successes and any misses? What should we think about the positioning from both the merchandising and an inventory standpoint for the fourth quarter? Did you provide how accessories impacted performance in the third quarter?
James V. O’Donnell – CEO responded: We’re really pleased on the feminine side of the accessory business. It kind of distinguishes us and gives us a help on the units per transaction; it makes the store much more exciting.
It allows us to accessorize the complete vertical lifestyle, unlike most of our competitors.
Joan Holstein Hilson – EVP and CFO responded: With respect to inventory, accessory is about half of the unit increase related to the accessory expansion.
Holiday Sales and Products
Janet Kloppenberg – JJK Research asked: You guys talked about business trends improving in October, up from the beginning of the back-to-school period. Could you outline for us either the product attributes or the product categories that drove that improvement and what categories you look to improve here in the holiday period? In your guidance, did contemplate the fact that you may have pulled forward some business because your promotional strategy was more aggressive this year versus last?
Roger S. Markfield – Vice Chairman and Executive Creative Director responded: We are really pleased, pretty much across the board. We were relatively strong, but obviously the ability to grow the denim business on top of the levels of where we are, we just feel terrific about that.
It’s hard for me to walk down the street and not see our signature back pocket on every other girl that’s walking in whatever city I happen to be in. But really, the nice thing was the knit business both in men’s and in women’s took off.
We really have solved to the issue of women’s knits and the men’s knit business; it is very powerful for us.
Kloppenberg followed-up: Could that improve as we move into spring?
Markfield responded: When I leave, I am on my way to Pittsburgh to sign off on the spring set. I have heard it looks spectacular but I haven’t seen it myself.
Joan Holstein Hilson – EVP and CFO respond: With respect to the guidance, we did contemplate the fact that some of the volume would have pulled forward into the powerful Thanksgiving weekend.
We also consider the fact that there will be a lull post-Thanksgiving and shopping again peaking closer into the Christmas holiday and certainly post-Christmas.