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Pennington’s Rebranding Stores as ‘PENN.’ Amid Demand for Plus-Sized Women’s Clothing [Interview]

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Retailer Penningtons describes itself as Canada’s premiere destination for plus-size fashion, ranging from sizes 14 to 32 and the company has launched a major, wide-ranging revitalization that includes new branding.

All 90 of the retailer’s stores across Canada will be labeled ‘PENN.’ with a new logo and a strategy of growth in the near future.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve done a complete deep-dive into our business that included hundreds of hours of consultation with our customers,” said Michael Strachan, PENN.’s President, in a statement. “We wanted to find the right way to position the company for the future in order to attract new customers who have changing attitudes while still respecting the needs of our long-standing, loyal customers.”

Reitmans (Canada) Limited operates the Penningtons stores across the country as well as 235 Reitmans stores and 77 RW&CO locations.

PENN. Campaign (Image: Penningtons)

Rosalba Iannuzzi, Vice-President Merchandising, Design and Technical, said women today are not willing to be defined by their size.

“There are no limitations. Our customer comes to us looking for solutions and comfort. We achieve this by offering fabrics that suit her needs, and through a relentless focus on fit. Fit is a feeling, not a size. She also comes to us so she can always be on trend, and that’s exactly what we are giving her.  We use our expertise to ensure the clothing we offer looks – and feels – good on her,” she said.

Rosalba Iannuzzi

“What’s happening with the brand is really about a changing attitude among women who wear plus clothes. What I’m proud to say is for us we don’t see any limitations. Women today do not want to be defined by their size and in fact that’s how we relate it back to setting no limitations for her. She comes to us for options and comfort and so that is what we want to deliver. The big change would be that. It’s not a mindset of limitations because you’re plus or defining her because she’s plus. 

“We are experts at what we do because we analyze and listen to our customers very closely. So we are experts in the plus field. We don’t limit her because she’s plus and we really want to offer her the freedom of finding options from head to toe.”

PENN. Store Interior (Image: Penningtons)

The company said the comprehensive PENN. refresh includes store renovations, new stores, enhanced customer service, new and refined product programs, expansion and changes to e-commerce and new branding and marketing. PENN. has also revived the fashion-forward Addition Elle brand which is available in all PENN. stores and at www.penningtons.com.

“As part of a dynamic three-year plan, the company will add 10 new stores in key markets with an emphasis on growing its presence in Ontario and Quebec. PENN.’s growth strategy will concentrate its efforts on key aspects of the business including Apparel Growth, Real Estate Acquisition and driving awareness of its rebranding, all to attract and introduce new customers to the brand,” explained the company.

“We’re breathing new life into a successful brand,” added Kathy Tsolakos, Vice-President, Marketing, Visual Presentation and E-Commerce. “It’s what’s driven our extensive overhaul including product design and offerings, digital growth, brand perception and positioning, and marketing. We love seeing our customers become excited about the changes we are making. And we’ve done it all by listening to them.”

Penningtons has been around for more than 70 years.

PENN. Store Interior (Image: Penningtons)

Iannuzzi said the retailer is bringing consumers its history and its authenticity but making it clear that there is a change in the brand – an evolution.

“What we’re doing in terms of merchandising is being able to offer all her needs and all her moments. When we call ourselves the one-stop shop, we really can dress you from head to toe, from the inside to the outside,” she said. “And when I go back to moments, we can capture everything that she needs for wear to work, for casual wear, for weekend wear, for active wear and her special occasions . . . and all her intimate moments with sleep wear and sweat. So it’s really about being able to cater to all her needs.”

Iannuzzi said the new branding has started across the country. Opening up new stores will be focused in key markets such as Ontario and Quebec but with a growth strategy throughout the Canadian landscape. 

“A lot of the changes in the product is what you’re already seeing in stores as of now but it will keep evolving,” she added.

“We do have plans to open up more locations in the next three years which is quite positive in the retail landscape of today.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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