In an effort to regain market share lost to the specialty apparel sector, St. Louis-based department store giant May Co. today announced plans for two new "proprietary" brands to be sold in its Lord & Taylor, Hecht’s, Robinsons-May, Foley’s, Meier & Frank, Famous-Barr and Strawbridge’s stores.

The two new brands, "i.e." and "be", are both targeted at younger customers. "i.e." is for female consumers ages 31-44 and will focus on modern, fashionable tailored and casual separates. "be" is for female consumers ages 19-30, and will focus on trendy fashions for young working women, new mothers and college students.

May plans to roll out the "i.e." line in the majority of its stores by August, while "be" will see an initial launch in 100 May stores. Strong and distinct in-store fixturing and signage and a national marketing campaign featuring magazine, newspaper and TV ads will back both brands.

Wall Street analysts are waiting to see if the historically inventory-focused organization can boost its topline through the private brand offerings. "If these brands successfully drive comp-store sales, these gains leveraged across May’s strong systems and inventory infrastructure should yield a benefit to the bottom line," Goldman Sachs analyst Adrianne Shapira wrote in a report on today’s announcement.