Wacoal in biggest drop in 44 years

Wacoal in biggest drop in 44 years

Sales of Wacoal, a popular lingerie brand among Thais, dropped by 12% to 1 billion baht in the first four months this year, the biggest drop in its 44 years here, because of lower demand attributed to the prolonged political conflicts.

Thammarat Chokwatana, executive vice-president of ICC International Plc, the local distributor of Wacoal products, said the protests in the Ratchaprasong and Pathumwan areas caused a 50% decline in its lingerie sales at Siam Paragon and Zen Department Store in January and February.

After the government revoked the state of emergency decree in March and the protests moved away from the Ratchaprasong intersection, business in the area began to recover. Wacoal saw a significant improvement, with average sales dropping only 12% year-on-year for the period, compared with a 15% dip for the overall lingerie market.

"This is the first time in four decades Wacoal sales fell at a double-digit rate. This is because of the political impasse and the drop in crop prices such as rice and rubber," he said.

If the political atmosphere does not worsen, ICC, a subsidiary of the consumer conglomerate Saha Group, believes it can revive Wacoal sales in the second half.

ICC expects Wacoal sales to reach 3.3 billion baht this year, up 10% from 3 billion last year.

To achieve its sales projection, the company is trying to sell its lingerie via new distribution channels such as online, said Mr Thammarat.

Yesterday ICC announced it will team up with Kloset, a leading Thai fashion designer brand, to create the Kloset-Wacoal Mood collection for Thai buyers. The partnership is meant to expand its customer base to include first-time workers.

Mr Thammarat said the new collection, which has the same fabric texture as some Kloset fashion items, will be launched next month in both the lingerie and swimwear sections.

"The Kloset-Wacoal Mood collection will help lift the Wacoal brand image to be more modern, fitting with the young lifestyle of first-time workers who have never used Wacoal products," he said.

The company designed 20,000 lingerie items for this exclusive collection. Wacoal expects to gain sales of 30 million baht for this mood collection.

Mr Thammarat said the market size of lingerie products sold via modern retail outlets is forecast to be about 7 billion baht, growing by only 5% to 7.35 billion baht by the end of this year.

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