As rumors swirl that the Istithmar, the private equity firm from Dubai that owns Barneys, is looking to get out, we hear on VERY good authority that Gene Pressmen wants back in.
The New York Times reports that Barneys would probably fetch $300 million to $400 million now, considerably less than the $942 million Istithmar paid to obtain the luxury goods retailer for the Japanese clotting conglomerate, Fast Retailing.
Before Gene jumps back into the retail business that he– um– troubled. We thought it would be prudent to pass on some friendly words of advice.
1. Customer Service: The backbone of a luxury business is service. Barneys has never been known for any-service. This would be a prime time to scoop up talented sales associates who have fallen on hard time at other luxury department stores.
2. Technology: Your online inventory controls are horrible. Your system needs to be updates so that customers who purchase items online don’t get an email weeks later saying that the product they purchased is out of stock.
3. Social Networking: Times have changed since you ran Barneys. These days customers don’t need to step one foot into a store or even be on the computer to shop. We suggest arming sales associates with camera equip Blackberries. An item comes in, it’s photographed, emailed to clients and poof sales are made. This works the other way too. Client sees a picture in a magazine, emails her sales associate and poof another sale is made.
4. The Men’s Store: Barneys was founded on servicing men. This foundation has been lost over the years. We suggest going back to your roots. It worked then and it will work now.