How Tory Burch Pivoted Her Brand During The Pandemic | Forbes

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Luxury fashion is fickle even in the best of times. The coronavirus has been an especially virulent pest. Stores around the globe shut down amid stay-at-home regulations. Chinese travelers—whose purchases account for some 30% of luxury-goods sales in Europe and North America—put away their travel bags. J.Crew, Neiman Marcus and Brooks Brothers all filed for bankruptcy. Revenues at Gucci parent Kering and LVMH, Roussel’s former employer, fell around 40% in the second quarter. Ralph Lauren sales tumbled by two-thirds.

Burch and Roussel realized quickly how dire the situation was. Within weeks, they were closing many of their 315 Tory Burch stores across the globe, furloughing most of their retail employees and shelving expansion plans, and coping with a longtime employee’s death from Covid-19. They then began formulating new plans to make sure Tory Burch LLC didn’t unravel.

Throughout this disruptive moment for the world, for business and for retail, Burch and Roussel let Forbes ride along on their eight-month navigation of this apocalypse. They’ve had to improvise, shutting stores, rerouting supplies and revamping e-commerce efforts, all in the hope that the business, which generated almost $1.5 billion in revenue in 2019, with a profit margin Forbes estimated at 11%, could survive. “We didn’t know how we would be able to pivot and be agile,” Burch says. “The unknown was so difficult.”

But jumping into the unknown also offers lessons, both good and bad, on how to pilot through a monsoon, at a time when shoppers are wary of leaving home and the threat of deadly disease lurks in every public space.

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