- David’s Bridal completed an asset acquisition of tech startup Blueprint Registry last week for an undisclosed sum of money, according to a company press release.
- Consumers can add gifts from any retailer to Blueprint Registry’s online universal gift registry. Among other services, it allows consumers to import existing registries and create cash registries. Gift registries and wish lists can be generated via shoppable room-by-room blueprints of their homes. Blueprint Registry was one of 10 startups that participated in the first iteration of the Target + Techstars retail accelerator program in 2016.
- Blueprint Registry's executive and technology teams have been offered employment by David's Bridal and will remain in Seattle. Nevin Shetty, president and senior vice president of registry, and Lizzy Ellingson, chief design and product officer, will report to Scott Key, CEO of David’s Bridal. Shetty told GeekWire the company will remain independent.
New generations, predictably, are jettisoning old traditions. One institution that has taken a big hit is elaborate, formal weddings, reported Business Insider, and more brides are shopping online for their dresses, according to USA Today. "Casualization" is in and formality is out. As a result, the wedding apparel business has become much more competitive and its leading player, David’s Bridal, is struggling.
One sign of this cultural and business change came when Alfred Angelo Bridal abruptly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and liquidation last summer, closing 60 stores and disrupting the supply of dresses to many independents. David’s Bridal offered "megadiscounts" to Alfred Angelo customers, Brides reported.
But David’s Bridal’s credit rating had already been downgraded by S&P Global and it appeared on Retail Dive’s list of "12 major retailers that could go bankrupt" last year. Although it was not on the 2018 version of the Retail Dive list, the company’s debt was downgraded by Moody’s Investor Service in February. In May, David’s Bridal promoted Scott Key to be its new CEO. The 60-year-old retailer is owned by private equity firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Leonard Green & Partners
Two years ago, J. Crew closed its bridal operation. Weddington Way, which had been acquired by Gap in 2016, is closing its test stores and the continuation of its e-commerce business is in question. Besides many independent shops, David’s Bridal’s top competitors currently are department stores Macy’s and Nordstrom’s, according to Comparably. But Amazon also sells wedding dresses, albeit in extremely low price ranges and has its own wedding registry.
Other retailers are using technology to get more from wedding registries. Target partnered with Honeyfund, a honeymoon registry startup, and enhanced its Target Registry app. Walmart added gift registry capabilities to its mobile app. Wedding registry marketplace Zola implemented a checklist feature on its mobile app. Bed Bath and Beyond added an augmented reality function to its mobile experience.
David’s Bridal has 300 stores, and its current website prominently points customers to its stores with taglines like: “Make an appointment,” “Walk-ins welcome” and “Come visit your local store.” The acquisition of Blueprint Registry is a way for the company to engage the new digitally native generation of brides. Among the more than 50 retailers and brands listed on Blueprint Registry’s website are Amazon.com, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, Target and Macy’s.