Does Mervyn’s have another chance?

Long before the Sun Capital takeover in 2004, the damage was done to the Mervyns brand by its longtime owners at Target Corporation. The company veered from strategy to strategy for many years — more aspirational one year, more budget-conscious the next, more focus on national brands one season, more “Targetization” the next season by shifting gears to private brands. And who can forget the “Mervyns California” branding fiasco in unrelated markets like Minnesota?

At the same time, the level of execution declined sharply from the company’s heyday in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Stores looked rundown, stockouts were rampant, and newer competitors like Kohl’s moved into Mervyn’s core markets several years ago. So it’s easy to blame the private-equity deal for the demise of Mervyn’s but frankly the company lost its way a long time ago. Good luck to the Morris family, but most of the best locations are now in others’ hands.

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