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Vera Bradley, Inc.  (VRA)
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    Sector  Consumer Discretionary    Industry Apparel, Footwear & Accessories
 


 

Vera Bradley, Inc.

Business Description


Vera Bradley is a leading designer of women’s handbags and accessories, luggage and travel items, eyewear, and stationery and gifts. Founded in 1982 by friends Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller, the brand’s innovative designs, iconic patterns and versatile styles offer women of all ages a colorful way to accessorize every look.


Vera Bradley offers a unique, multi-channel sales model, as well as a focus on service and a high level of customer engagement. The Company sells its products through two reportable segments: Direct and Indirect. The Direct business consists of sales of Vera Bradley products through the Company’s full-line and factory outlet stores in the United States, verabradley.com, direct-to-consumer eBay sales, and the Company’s annual outlet sale in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

We believe the following competitive strengths differentiate us within the marketplace and provide a strong foundation for our future growth:
Strong Brand Identity and Positioning. We believe the Vera Bradley brand is highly recognized for its distinctive and vibrant style. Vera Bradley is positioned in the market as a lifestyle brand that inspires consumers to express their femininity, individuality, and sense of style. We have also positioned our brand to highlight the high quality and functional attributes of our products. The Vera Bradley brand is more price accessible than many competing brands, which allows us to attract a wide range of consumers and increases our ability to achieve repeat purchases.


Exceptional Customer Loyalty. We believe we have a segment of long-term consumers who act as loyal and enthusiastic brand advocates. We believe this enthusiasm for our brand by our loyal customers inspires repeat purchases. Our customers often purchase our products as gifts for family members and friends, who we strive to turn into brand enthusiasts.


Product Development Expertise. Our product development team combines an understanding of consumer preferences with a knowledge of color, fashion, and style trends to design our products. Our creative design associates utilize a disciplined product design process that seeks to maximize the productivity of our product releases and drive consumer demand.


Dynamic Multi-Channel Distribution Model. We offer our products through a diverse choice of shopping options across channels that are intimate, highly shop-able, fun, and characteristic of our brand. Whether they are at a Vera Bradley store, a specialty retail store, a department store, or verabradley.com, we believe consumers have an opportunity to find the brand in places that match their unique shopping interests. Our multi-channel distribution model enables us to maximize customer access to our products.


Established Network of Indirect Retailers. Our Indirect specialty retail business consists of an established and diverse network of approximately 2,600 locations. This channel, primarily located throughout the United States, includes some of the brand’s strongest advocates, and their passion has been instrumental in the development of our brand.


Unique Company Culture. We were founded in 1982 by two friends, Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia Miller, who built our business around their passion for design and commitment to customer service. We believe our founders created a unique culture that attracts passionate and motivated employees who are excited about our products and our brand. Our employees share our founders’ commitment to Vera Bradley customers. We believe that a fun, friendly, and welcoming work environment fosters creativity and collaboration and that, by empowering our employees to become personally involved in product design, testing, and marketing, they become passionate and devoted brand advocates.


Experienced Management Team. Our senior management team led by Robert Wallstrom, our Chief Executive Officer, has extensive experience across a diverse range of disciplines in product design, merchandising, marketing, store operations and development, supply chain management, and finance.

 

We have implemented a fully integrated and cross-functional product development process that aligns design, market research, merchandising, planning, sales, marketing, and sourcing. Product development is a core capability that makes our products unique. Our designs and aesthetics set our products apart and drive customer loyalty. Our product development team mixes an understanding of the needs of our target Day Maker customers, with knowledge of upcoming color and fashion trends, to design new collections, as well as new product categories, that will resonate in the market.


We typically begin the development stage of our products in the Vera Bradley portfolio twelve to eighteen months in advance of their release. The development of each new pattern includes the design of a primary, secondary, and sometimes a tertiary print. To seek fresh perspectives, we often collaborate with independent designers to create unique patterns for each season and also maintain an internal print design team. We oversee the development and exercise the final approval of all patterns and designs. Once developed, we generally copyright our patterns as appropriate. We believe that great design is not only central to our product development efforts, but also is a fundamental part of our brand development and growth strategies.


Our product development team works to ensure that new collections contain an assortment of products and styles that are in line with both fashion trends and Day Maker customer needs and regularly updates classic styles to enhance functionality. In addition, we actively pursue opportunities to expand our product offerings through new line and brand extensions. Our product development team monitors fashion trends and customer needs by attending major trend shows in Europe and the United States, subscribing to trend monitoring services, and engaging in comparison-shopping.

Our product development team works closely with our marketing team to gather consumer insights through seasonal market research and in-store testing. We gather seasonal market research through a variety of methodologies, including scheduled interviews and online and in-person surveys. The team assures that we offer a broad range of patterns, fabrications, styles, and functional features in a cost-effective manner. We believe that with our cross-functional, collaborative approach, we are able to introduce and sell our merchandise in a way that clearly communicates the Vera Bradley brand.


In addition to products developed in-house, we also pursue brand extensions through strategic partnerships and licensing agreements. We currently have strategic partnerships in place for development of our fragrance and jewelry collections and licenses in place for our eyewear and collegiate collections. In the future we will continue to look for the right strategic partners and licensees that can augment the brand and provide established distributions networks for certain categories of business.

   

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