The plus-size women’s apparel market – sizes 14-32 – is growing fast. The average American woman has moved from a size 8 to a size 14 over the past 40 years. Every 10 years, the average increases one size and 10 pounds. The plus-size market reached $16.2 billion in 2013 – and will no doubt continue to increase since more than half of American women are plus-size but plus-size clothing accounts for only 19 percent of apparel sales in the United States. 

Avenue, a national specialty retailer for plus-size women, is positioned to take advantage of its burgeoning target market. The New Jersey-based company, founded in 1983, operates 283 stores, mostly in strip centers across the country, and a growing e-commerce business. It sells modern, fashionable clothes at affordable prices, targeting a customer who is 35 to 65 years old and has an average annual household income of $65,000.

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As a fashion retailer, Apricot Lane loves to lead new trends. Founded in 2007 by CEO Ken Petersen and partners Scott Jacobs and Tom Brady, the company brought together two familiar but typically separate concepts and launched a women’s boutique fashion franchise.

“This fashion retail industry didn’t really have franchises,” Petersen says. “But we’re franchisors and we’re good at it. With 22 years of experience in franchising, I thought, ‘My gosh, there has to be a lot of people who would love to have a fashion boutique, but the risk is high without the infrastructure of support, leverage and networking that franchising provides.’ So in 2007 we launched and grew right through the most difficult economy since the Great Depression.” 

Read more: Apricot Lane

WWE Rules the Ring

Round-the-clock content, a cache of superstars and a presence in many retail categories helped the WWE become a world-class brand.

The WWE is one of the world’s most recognizable brands. The giant of professional wrestling and sports entertainment has grown into a billion-dollar company that holds more than 300 live shows a year and broadcasts in more than 150 countries. It also has an active consumer products group that has more than 150 licensees in more than 85 countries worldwide, generating more than $1 billion in retail sales through global distribution.

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Delivering exceptional customer service and partnering with the communities it serves is what K-VA-T Food Stores’ Food City supermarkets are all about. “We are focused on our customers and the community,” President and CEO Steve Smith says. 

The Food City banner dates back to 1918 when its first grocery store opened in Greeneville, Tenn. K-VA-T Food Stores, Food City’s parent company, began in 1955 when founder Jack C. Smith, his father, Curtis Smith, cousin Ernest Smith and uncle Earl Smith opened their first store in Grundy, Va. 

Today, the company operates 105 Food City supermarkets throughout southwest Virginia, southeast Kentucky and northeast Tennessee and of those, 78 include a pharmacy and 81 locations offer fuel. K-VA-T Food Stores also operates Misty Mountain Spring Water, L.L.C. and its own 1.2 million-square-foot Food City distribution center. “We are not a general merchandise retailer,” Steve Smith adds. “We are a traditional supermarket format.” 

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Creating trends in men’s clothing is keeping the Hart Schaffner & Marx and Hickey Freeman brands prospering. One of those trends is a reaction to the casual dress codes in effect in many offices. 

“You’re seeing a trend back to people dressing up again,” W Diamond Group Corp. owner and CEO Doug Williams observes. “You’re seeing more dressing up by the 26- to 40-year-olds, and the 40- to 60-year-olds are following suit.” For W Diamond Group Corp. – manufacturer of Hart Schaffner & Marx and retailer of Hickey Freeman – following suit literally means selling more suits.

“You’re finding in young people there’s a desire for heritage, and our Hart Schaffner & Marx brand being more than 125 years old has that heritage,” Williams asserts. “There is a desire to support their community, so being made in the USA is a positive. The customer sees the quality, and they’re willing to forego multiple purchases of poor-quality products and make an investment in better-quality products.”

Read more: W Diamond Group Corp.

Jennifer Adams is ready to hit the big-time this year. The lifestyle and design guru already has found big success with her collections of home products through major retailers like Costco, and in 2014 she looks to expand the Jennifer Adams Home brand even further with the debut of several new product lines that capture the essence of her coordinated timeless style. As Adams takes a hands-on approach to developing these products and working closely with the industry-leading partners – including PEM America, Jaipur, Covington, FCP Brands, Fizzion, JLA, Creative Bath and Rich Brands – who bring her ideas to life, she is also aided by the expertise and experience of a dedicated group of top executives and a veteran licensing agency – All American Licensing & Management Group (AALMG) - all helping her build a brand that has experienced a meteoric growth with her fans and consumers. 

Read more: Jennifer Adams Home/All-American Licensing & Management Group

Bolla Management is taking the gas station and convenience store industry by storm with its upscale and customer service-focused locations. The company’s mission is to become the most successful, recognizable and respected C-store chain on the East Coast. 

The Garden City, N.Y.–based company was founded in 1989 by President and CEO Harry Singh, who was committed to providing high-quality products at competitive prices and convenient locations. Bolla Management is comprised of five divisions: Bolla Retail, Bolla Wholesale, Bolla Transport, Bolla Construction and Bolla Real Estate. 

The company acts as a wholesale fuel distributor and operator of gas stations, convenience stores, auto repair shops and car washes. “We continue to put our stakes in the ground all over Long Island, New York City and New Jersey,” Singh says. “As we secure properties and get the projects into the pipeline, we secure our position as a market leader.”

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The world of retail has changed significantly since IDL Worldwide started offering merchandising and graphics services in 1943. Brands have come and gone, and effective retailing and merchandising today requires much more than just a well-placed sign or retail rack. The Pittsburgh-based company’s core strength, however, has remained constant over the years. 

“We’re successful because of our people,” says Dave Ball, president, brand centers Americas for Matthews Brand Solutions, IDL’s corporate parent. “We’ve gone through a lot of changes, but all the way to today it’s been the passion that our people bring to their jobs every day that separates us from our competitors.”

Read more: IDL Worldwide