HanesBrands executive offers insight into how to win with today’s megaretailers

Ann Fritchman, chief customer officer of HanesBrands’ intimates business, spoke to students as part of the Chandler Family Professional Sales Center Speaker Series.

Ann Fritchman, chief customer officer of HanesBrands, a socially responsible leading marketer of basic apparel, shared her professional experience with Elon students on March 8.

Ann Fritchman, Chief Customer Officer, HanesBrands Intimates
Fritchman began her presentation discussing her pathway to success in the industry. She began her career in retail, learning the business and fundamentals of selling to consumers, and began to question what it would be like on the other side of the desk. She joined the Hanes team in 1992 and has since held various roles in marketing, sales and brand management and organizational design. She referenced Sheryl Sandberg’s thought-provoking book, Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead, encouraging students to think in terms of a career jungle gym rather than a career ladder. “It’s really about exposure, getting new experiences and always learning,” Fritchman said.

In her current role, Fritchman oversees the sales and field service merchandising organizations for strategic partners such as Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears Holdings and JCPenney. She also coordinates with leaders of Hanes’ Walmart and Target teams to ensure alignment of their strategies with the total Hanes intimates business.

“You might think, how could you work at the same company for twenty years?” said Fritchman. “First of all, companies don’t stay the same. We have changed a lot at HanesBrands and your job won’t stay the same. You can stay with the same company and have a lot of different experiences.”

Fritchman highlighted some of HanesBrands largest retail customers. She demonstrated how HanesBrands works with each of them very differently, given they vary in consumers and worth. Walmart, for example, is a $500 billion-dollar company and has close to 4,800 stores, while Target is worth $75 billion with 1,800 stores across the country. Amazon, another HanesBrands customer, is a $100 billion-dollar company, which Fritchman noted is fundamentally changing the way people shop and the way HanesBrands sells.

She identified three areas in which selling is evolving and the environment is changing, which ultimately impacts sales strategies. The first area is retailers, who are more knowledgeable and informed than ever before. “They can not only be your customer, they can be your competition,” Fritchman said. “You have to figure out what you bring to the retailer that is irreplaceable.”

The second is the “omni-channel effect,” which expects online business to represent 30 percent of sales by 2020, a 10 percent increase over the next three years. Lastly, she advised finding balance through using technology to facilitate speed in decision-making and bringing ideas and opportunities in front of people. She emphasized the ongoing value in maintaining a personal connection with buyers or retailers. 

Fritchman concluded the presentation offering students thoughts to keep in mind to win with today’s megaretailers. These included better understanding customer strategy, focusing on building quality relationships, remaining a student of the business, always beginning with the consumer and thinking critically and problem solving. Fritchman proposed these thoughts to assist students in the imperative task of setting themselves apart in the world of mega retailers.

Fritchman has served as the HanesBrands United Way’s Tocqueville Society Chairperson and is a member of the Winston-Salem Symphony board with roles on their Philanthropy and Innovation Task Forces. In 2014, Fritchman was recognized as the YWCA Women of Vision Award winner for business and in 2015, was honored with a mentoring award at the Global Women’s Leadership Conference. Her peers at Hanes honored her with the latter to recognize her dedication to helping others reach their personal and professional potential. 

She earned a degree in chemistry from Vanderbilt University and currently resides in Winston Salem, N.C. with her family. 

The Chandler Family Professional Sales Center was endowed in 2008 by Thomas E. Chandler, owner of Chandler Concrete Company, and his family. The center is located on the first floor of the Ernest A. Koury, Sr. Business Center at Elon University. The center’s goals are to provide experiences that are relevant, practical and engaging, offer firms the latest sales knowledge and skills, connect students with local and national employers and conduct research that advances the field of sales.