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With a tailor-made spirit of entrepreneurialism, Morris and Arthur Sidewater launched Charming Shoppes in 1940. In the ’50s, they partnered with another pair of brothers, David and Ellis Wachs, and continued to open stores throughout the decade. In 1972, the company’s Fashion Bug chain, which was opened under a new name to match its suburban focus, became computerized, and Charming Shoppes became among the first to have computerized registers with their use of the point-of-sale register.

 

 

 

Profile
  • Headquarters: Bensalem, Pa. 
  • Founding year: 1940
  • Number of locations as of January 2011: 2,064
  • Chains: Lane Bryant & Lane Bryant Outlet, Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes 
  • Online stores: LaneBryant.com, Cacique.com
  • Q4 2010 net sales: $578.8 million compared to $539 million for the prior year’s Q4

Continuing with its spirit of innovation, in 1993, Charming Shoppes opened an on-site child-care facility and wellness center for the benefit of Charming Shoppes employees. Around this time, it purchased 28 locations from the Petrie clothing chain, and to focus on Fashion Bug’s core female customer, phased out its men’s division.

The company then focused on the women’s plus-size apparel business and acquired the 137-store Modern Woman plus-size apparel chain. In 2000, it added the 433-store Memphis-based Catherines Stores Corporation, with the strategic plan of integrating Modern Woman into Catherines’ plus-size platform. On year later, Charming Shoppes acquired America’s number-one plus-size specialty apparel provider, Lane Bryant, with 651 stores.

Today, Charming Shoppes is the largest women’s plus-size specialty apparel provider and the third-largest women’s specialty retailer. Anthony 

Romano, president and CEO, said, “I believe our customer is underserved, and I am passionate about providing her with the fashion, fit, and value that she desires and deserves. With our strong brands and solid foundation within a growing market niche, I am very optimistic about the long-term value of and opportunities for Charming Shoppes. I look forward to our future.”

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