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J.Crew Launching Lower-Priced Chain

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In a bid to cater to an increasingly cost-conscious vox populi, struggling clothier J.Crew Group said in a statement Friday that it’s opening its first J.Crew Mercantile location in late July in Dallas.

After trademarking the name a year ago and initially slamming media rumors that it might be gearing up to launch a lower-priced chain, the New York-based company disclosed the store would carry “a collection of value-driven merchandise with classic J.Crew style for women, men and children.”

The line had heretofore been available exclusively at J.Crew Factory outlets but is now getting its own space, located in strip centers and some malls.

The move to mass-market merchandise isn’t surprising, given that the cut-price clothing business is booming and the privately-held company has seen sales at its namesake brand’s stores slip 5 percent to $508.7 million in the most recent quarter.

In addition to cutting around 175 of its corporate staff last month and replacing its women’s design chief with Somsack Sikhounmuong, head of design for its contemporary chain, Madewell, CEO Mickey Drexler is hoping Mercantile will kick-start growth in the company’s coffers. After all, he does know a thing or two about the discount business: During his time helming Gap Inc. in the ’90s he started Old Navy which today is outselling its sibling brands, Gap and Banana Republic.

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