Cathy Horn wrote in the New York Times, "Barneys has never been about giving customers what they want. It has been about educating, expanding horizons, presenting the unexpected". Inspiration and aspiration are the reasons people go into stores - the environment, the experience, and the edit.
Barney's has been on track to be a billion dollar business, achieving $800 million in sales for 2012. They haven't done it through branded shops, or logo LV bags. In fact, Barney's exited their Prada womens apparel business when the brand insisted on a concession model. Diffusion designer lines are rare, as are bland brands without personality.
"It is good to be a niche in today's world," said Lee, who is a true merchant at heart, searching ateliers globally for new designers and talent. "Once you get to $2 billion, $3 billion, $4 billion, they are not Barneys brands," Lee indicated, reinforcing the desire to deliver the customer a truly unique and unexpected shopping experience.
In addition to top line sales growth, the retailer is seeing significant productivity increases while staying true to their mission. In 2012 annual sales in accessories doubled to $8000 per square foot. And online sales continue to grow, seeing a traffic increase of 34 percent and closing in on the Beverly Hills store to be #2 in the company. The retailer applies the same merchandising philosophy in e.commerce, highlighting only a few brands, with the focus on Lookbooks and Videos. The Barneys New York strategy seems to be paying off.
To learn more about business productivity - The Retail Math Workshops are a good place to start.