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Women Are the Boss at Boss

A miserable year for German clothier Hugo Boss’ women’s line has left the concern resolved to make a better go of it in 2002. But investors are wary.


Hugo Boss a la femme

Women are the future at German men’s clothier Hugo Boss – at least for the time being.

Boss chief financial officer Jörg-Viggo Müller told a press conference that concern would continue to expand its year-old women’s clothing line, even after last year’s sales failed to meet 2002 targets.

The company’s sales and earnings conference revealed very little good news for investors. Müller cautiously predicted 5 percent growth this year and said that, at the very least, Boss’s net profit would match the 107 million euro figure in 2001.

The news didn’t exactly thrill the stock markets. Boss shares dropped sharply in Wednesday’s afternoon trading. Merrill Lynch remained optimistic, however, announcing it had forecast Boss’s net profits rising 9 percentage points this year.

Boss Woman was the major reason for the disappointment this year. Women just aren’t buying the clothes and the number of orders for this year’s winter/fall collection shot down a serious 35 percent

In response, Hugo interim chief Bruno Sälzer promises a more attractive winter/fall 2003 collection at more affordable prices. Up until now, prices were 30 sometimes 40 percent more than menswear.

Boss promises to lower them to only 15 percent more. They also plan to respond to criticism that the fashions were tame, with a more aggressive approach on design.

To support their attempts, the concern promises to begin advertising campaigns geared towards women. They also plan to open up 50 new Boss stores.

The efforts will hopefully increase the women’s share of Boss’ hoped-for 1.15 billion sales this year. As it is now, Boss Woman only makes up 5 percent of Boss’ overall sales.

"That the woman theme is not an easy one, was always obvious," said outgoing head Werner Baldessarini. "But it works 100 percent with our Lifestyle-brand Boss. We’re going to try it again."

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