NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Bebe (BEBE) stores is in the midst of a turnaround plan to get itself back on track. The women's apparel retailer has a laser-like focus on who its consumer is and the kind of clothing she's looking to buy. "There have been paradigm shifts within the company and they didn't work. So, what we did is settle down, go back to our roots, pay attention to who our customer is, pick our lane and stay in it," said bebe CEO Jim Wiggett.
Wiggett officially became the CEO of the retailer in December 2014 after serving as interm ceo for six months. Wiggett points to missteps along the way with the retailer's target demographic and its merchandising assortment. Over the years, who exactly the "bebe woman" had become was unclear. Today, Wiggett says there is much more focus within the company.
"There is a perception today that the bebe customer is the young 20-year-old party girl and the reality is she's not. The average age of the bebe customer is 32. She ranges in age from low-20s to high 40s. It's a woman who takes care of herself, who's confident, who wants to be noticed."
Another part of the company's turnaround strategy was changing the layout of the stores and how merchandise was grouped. "Part of the presentation in the stores in the past was in the color palettes. The customer doesn't shop that way. I don't know a woman on earth who walks into a store and says I'm buying blue today. ... We believe there are multiple dimensions to a woman's life and if we address those with a point of view, she'll respond to that."
Apart from trying to focus on what its' buyer is looking for, Wiggett is also focused on measured growth through international expansion in 2016 into China, Brazil and Western Europe and also expanding its outlet stores beyond the current 36 it has. Wiggett said, "I can do my core and my high-end in my bebe boutiques and I can do my opening price point in my outlets and it broadens my customer appeal and my customer base. Outlets then become a feeder system to my core brand."