Same-store sales dropped 12.4% in December, although such dramatic drops in monthly comps are, unfortunately, nothing new at Chico's. Of course, I suppose that might look like a minor bump, considering many retailers reported abysmal December figures -- look at Abercrombie & Fitch
Meanwhile, Chico's named David Dyer to replace CEO Scott Edmonds, who has retired. Dyer has been a board member at Chico's and does have retail experience. He previously served as CEO at Tommy Hilfiger and Land's End (which was purchased years ago by Sears
Edmonds was a veteran at Chico's, although the last several years certainly didn't allow him to leave on a high note, so shareholders probably aren't shedding many tears over his departure. Chico's five-year chart tells quite a tale; remember in February 2006, when the stock topped out at about $48 per share? It's hard to remember those days now that Chico's has needed a turnaround for several years running, and said turnaround still doesn't really seem all that forthcoming, especially with the current economic headwinds battering so many retailers.
I once thought that Chico's looked like a beaten down value stock, but I have since given up on that notion. I am just not keen on the specialty retailers that aim for older female customers in general; these include not only Chico's but retail names like Ann Taylor
All of these companies may be having their share of problems getting the right merchandise on the racks lately, but I also strongly believe that older female shoppers have quite a knack for shutting their wallets with a resounding snap when times are bad. While Chico's may be the best candidate for a turnaround in its niche, I'd prefer to look for value retail stocks elsewhere. A new CEO may be able to turn the ship around, but investors should remember the serious challenges this retailer faces; a fresh face at the helm is not likely to be enough.