Is the Walmart/Justice tie-up a harbinger of more retailer brand partnerships?
Justice, which closed all 826 of its stores last year in bankruptcy proceedings, is making a comeback on the floors of Walmart timed to an expected record back-to-school season.
Founded as Limited Too in 1987 and geared towards girls between the ages of 6 and 12, Justice was acquired last November in the bankruptcy of Ascena Retail Group by Bluestar Alliance, which also owns Hurley, bebe, Tahari and Brookstone. ShopJustice.com relaunched in April.
Walmart becomes the exclusive fashion retailer for Justice with more than 140 items launching at 2,400 stores and Walmart.com. The range includes not only the fashion and accessories the brand was known for, but jewelry, bedding and bath, backpacks, stationery, skateboards and tech accessories. Shoes and pet accessories debut in September.
In a blog entry, Denise Incandela, EVP of apparel and private brands, Walmart U.S. said the retail giant has added more than 1,000 national fashion brands over the last few years. These include the relaunch of private label brands Time and True and Terra & Sky; the launch of “exclusive elevated brands” such as ELOQUII Elements, Free Assembly, Scoop and Sofia Jeans by Sofia Vergara; and the recent addition of national brands like Reebok, Celebrity Pink and Champion.
“Justice is a popular brand our customers know and love, and with the back-to-school shopping season underway, this new collection comes at the perfect time for our customers looking to elevate their style,” said Ms. Incandela in a press release.
Walmart just launched a Gap Home collection, and many digital native brands have entered physical retail through partnerships with traditional retailers. However, partnerships among national chains are still rare.
Sears drew headlines in the early aughts when it opened Lands’ End shop-in-shops. In beauty, Sephora will start opening counters inside Kohl’s in August following more than a decade-long partnership with JC Penney, while a Target/Ulta partnership begins this fall.
Beyond its Sephora deal, Kohl’s has formed recent partnerships with Tommy Hilfiger, Eddie Bauer, Lands’ End and Cole Haan in a national brands push. Walmart’s closest competitors, Target and Amazon, are focusing on private label offerings in apparel, including Target’s surprising move in 2018 to discontinue the successful C9 Champion line.
- Walmart Announces New Collaboration with Tween Brand Justice – Just in Time for Back to School – Walmart/BusinessWire
- Walmart Continues Fashion Assortment Expansion With Popular Tween Brand Justice – Just in Time for a Very Busy Back to School – Walmart
- Walmart adding Justice tween brand to 2,400 stores, Walmart.com in time for back-to-school shopping – USA Today
- Justice Is Back: Walmart Will Launch the Tween Brand in 2,400 Stores – Footwear News
- Justice Re-launches With New Spring Merchandise on Shopjustice.com – Justice/PRNewswire
- Deloitte: Back-to-School and Back-to-College Make a Comeback – Deloitte/PRNewswire
- Back-to-School U.S. Retail Sales Expected to Grow 5.5%* Compared to Last Year, According to Mastercard SpendingPulse – Mastercard SpendingPulse/BusinessWire
- Fresh start: Consumer pulse survey report | Back to school 2021 – KPMG
- Will Walmart and Gap be good partners or strange bedfellows? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more retail partnerships in the years ahead or is the Walmart/Justice deal a rare case and more about emphasizing national brands? Is the Justice deal a major win for Walmart?