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Nobody knows more about makeovers than Frederick's of Hollywood Inc., an established retailer of women's lingerie and intimate apparel.

Frederick's recently redesigned mall stores are an important part of the privately held company's strategy to regain its financial footing and change its image “from tawdry to edgy,” says Randall Stone, a partner at Lippincott Mercer, a brand consultant.

A slimmed-down Frederick's, which began its store facelift after emerging from bankruptcy court protection 18 months ago, plans to continue renovating stores. Sales at the redesigned stores have generally increased by about 10 percent per square foot, often by attracting highly prized younger shoppers, says Denise Marsicano, general manager of stores.

Frederick's 156 stores, mostly in malls, generated about half the company's estimated 2002 annual revenue of $150 million. Catalogue and online sales accounted for the other half. Investment firm Wilshire Partners owns Frederick's. The company has remodeled 15 new stores in suburban malls in Chicago, Dallas, Dayton, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco, relocated several others and closed 47.

The remodeled and new locations employ a French boudoir motif that relies heavily on mahogany paneling, leopard print carpeting, red velvet curtains and elegant wrought-iron displays. (Risqué items that Frederick's made famous, are still for sale, but the emphasis is on less salacious products.)

“We are looking to capture the glamour of our Hollywood heritage with an edgy, hip spin, without being campy,” Marsicano says.

Fifty-six-year old Frederick's — “the original sex symbol,” according to Marsicano — is evoking what it calls this old-style Hollywood glamour to attract a wider range of customers. “The original approach appealed to too narrow a segment,” says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a New York-based retail consultant.

For Frederick's, which pioneered the push-up bra (originally known as the “Rising Star”), less is more when it comes to mall space. Many of the remodeled stores are 1,800 square feet, or about 10 percent smaller than the average outlet operated by Victoria's Secret, the lingerie industry leader. Because of its smaller size, Frederick's has to be selective in deciding what and how merchandise is displayed.

The upshot: Popular items and best sellers, those with the greatest appeal, sit on pricey wood cabinets in prime locations that are bathed in soothing track lighting.

The goal, according to Lippincott Mercer's Stone: To extend the appeal of this naughty, but nice retailer that promotes “wholesome, fun sexiness.”

TAGS: News Retail
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