Men’s Wearhouse is hitting 40 and hotter than ever.
As they hit the big 4-0, the executive team at Men’s Wearhouse continues to move forward with aggressive plans for growth and change. Clearly, they are grappling with many of the same issues we all do: which parts of their mission statement to hold on to, which to discard or alter in light of “changing macro-economic conditions.” A recent announcement by CEO Doug Ewert that they’ve hired an outside consulting company “to assist us in evaluating strategic alternatives to our K&G operations” was well received by the financial community. With 97 superstores selling discounted men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, the K&G concept is viewed as a bit removed from Men’s Wearhouse’s core competency of sourcing and selling quality men’s apparel. (K&G reported a disappointing fourth quarter with comp store sales down 5.7 percent…)
Yet despite the challenging economy, the rest of Men’s Wearhouse’s business has been decidedly healthy, with annual 2012 retail sales up 5.1 percent and earnings up 9.2 percent. Their secrets: a corporate culture that focuses on their frontline sales associates (who are extensively trained to be experts in men’s clothing); an incredible sourcing organization that provides great value to consumers while allowing vendors to make a living; a very genuine way of relating to vendors; an impressively low employee turnover (in itself amazing with 17,000 employees); a buying culture that fosters intelligent risk-taking; the unmistakable voice of George Zimmer in nationwide television commercials; an instinct for great merchandising ideas (e.g. using tuxedo rentals to bring in a new generation of customers); and a very real desire to let their associates combine business and life. Surely it is this unique combination of various strengths that has landed Men’s Wearhouse on Fortune magazine’s Top 100 Companies to Work For list for the past 12 years.
Going forward, the company projects earnings per share up 5.9 to 9.8 percent on a 2.85 to 3.85 increase in sales. Look for a significant increase in outlet store business, in online business, in multi-channel marketing and in fashion-right, value-priced menswear offerings, most notably under their own labels.
What follows: some in-depth conversation with Men’s Wearhouse’s key players, a close-knit group of notoriously tough but remarkably caring, astute, hardworking guys who share the core values that make the whole thing work. We salute them!