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Can Juicy Couture Get Going with Active Wear?

The days of the velour track suit are long gone, but Juicy Couture, the brand that broke the bank with the late ‘90s trend, hasn’t really recovered. Now, the struggling San Fernando Valley fashion brand – which is rumored to be up for sale – is planning the release of a women’s active wear line and an intimates line to ramp up declining sales. William L. McComb, chief executive of Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., the New York holding company that owns the Arleta brand, announced the lines during the company’s recent earnings call. The company has not released any samples or specific information about the new lines, but McComb said they will both debut in the first half of next year. The sportswear line would compete with Lululemon Athletica Inc., a Vancouver company that is a leader in female sports apparel. “We think that (a) woman is looking for something new, a different twist on the look, something a little flirtier and something a little less functional, but with some functional properties,” he said in the earnings call. For its intimates line, the company anticipates competing with Victoria’s Secret, said McComb. Reaction to the announcement has been mixed. Juicy has been by far its weakest performer for Fifth and Pacific, which also owns the Lucky Brand Jeans and Kate Spade brands. It bought Juicy in 2003, but sales have been slowly fading and in the first quarter dived 11 percent, compared to a year earlier. Neil Stern, a senior partner at Chicago-based retail consulting firm McMillanDoolittle LLP, said the Juicy brand still has some resonance with consumers and the plans have potential. “It needs to reinvent in a different world,” he said in an email. “They certainly picked high growth areas and it’s possible they could move their customer base to buy more from them.” However, Corrina Freedman, an analyst at Los Angeles financial services firm Wedbush Securities said the lines could be little more than pre-sale posturing. “Similar to selling a house, it’s smart to make some announced upgrades before it fully hits the market,” she said. Mary Ross Gilbert, an analyst at L.A. investment bank Imperial Capital LLC, said the company will likely sell Juicy – as well as Lucky – no matter how well the new lines do to help fuel growth for the Kate Spade line. “It was always envisioned that the brands would separate,” she said. Juicy operates 78 specialty retail stores, 54 outlet stores and 2 concessions, with greater Valley retail locations at the Americana at Brand in Glendale and the Camarillo Premium Outlets. The company declined to comment on plans for its new lines or potential sale. Green Light The Burbank City Council has approved plans for a 210-room Hilton Garden Inn near the city’s downtown. The hotel was proposed by FPG Development Group of Palm Beach, Fla., and is slated for the southwest corner of San Fernando Road and Verdugo Avenue. The six-story lodge will replace an auto sales lot, car repair shop and restaurant. The hotel will include a restaurant, lounge, pool and fitness center. FPG builds and operates hotels nationwide, including in the Los Angeles area and Silicon Valley. The hotel is expected to begin construction at the end of the year and create about 70 jobs. FPG will own and operate the hotel under the Hilton corporate flag. Hilton Garden Inn is owned by Hilton Worldwide of McLean, Va. The Hilton chain operates hotels in Hollywood, Montebello and El Segundo near Los Angeles International Airport. Cycle Through Italian cycling shoemaker Vittoria has moved its American distribution operations from Ohio to the Santa Clarita Valley. Vittoria USA, a unit of Vittoria srl, headquartered in Vigliano Biellese, moved into a 2,400-square-foot warehouse and office space at 28522 Constellation Road in Valencia in mid-March. Edoardo Vercelli, president of Vittoria USA, said the decision was made for multiple factors. “Relocating to a larger warehouse on the West Coast will allow us to improve our dealer support and place us in the heart of one of the country’s most vibrant cycling communities,” he said in a prepared statement. The company makes road, mountain and triathlon cycling shoes that cost from $100 to $300, among other products. Items can be found online and at cycling shops. Staff Reporter Elliot Golan can be reached at egolan@sfvbj.com or (818) 316-3123.

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