Shopping Centers Today International

FEB 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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Page 15 of 59

Of the company's three chains, the Cato namesake is its largest, with some 1,100 stores in metro, middle-market and rural areas, all geared to the trend- driven, value-oriented woman between 25 and 50. It's Fashion, with 200 stores, reaches out to a younger shopper in those same markets. The company's newest concept is the 65-unit Versona, which targets a more affluent shop- per. The competition is as broad as the aTO FashIOns Is rIpe FOr expansion, but finding locations in a tight U.s. real estate market has been tricky. This value-price fashion and accessories retailer, which operates the Cato, It's Fashion and Versona specialty chains, has "no capital constraints that would inhibit new store growth," ac- cording to CeO John Cato. "But lack of new shopping center de- velopment is making it difficult to grow store count." For now, therefore, the Charlotte, n.C.– based company is concentrating on e-commerce sales, enhanced product design and beefed-up sourcing channels to help bring new customers — including those highly prized Millennials. company's own demographic range: Cato customers also shop the midtier department stores, mass merchants and off-pricers, such as Belk, Kohl's, Target and T.J.Maxx; Versona counts the up- scale nordstrom and Dillard's depart- ment stores among its competitors; and It's Fashion goes up against the likes of Burlington Coat Factory, Forever 21 and even Walmart. One of the company's current chal- lenges is that the consumer's spending patterns are trending away from apparel and toward cars, home improvement and electronics, according to the chief executive. "In addition, the power of the Millennials and Internet retail growth is forcing Cato to re-examine how it con- tinues to serve its current customer and attract new customers," he said. The company is staking future growth, he C Very fast fashion WELL-capitaLizEd cato is on a mission to Expand By Barbara Thau r e t a i l i n g t o d a y 16 S C t / F E b r u a r y 2 0 1 6

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