By  on July 5, 2007

Barneys New York believes designer labels will be a stronger draw even in casual, laid-back Seattle.

The luxury retailer replaced its 17-year-old store in Seattle with a larger unit that opened at a new location last Friday, one week after Jones New York announced a deal to sell Barneys to Istithmar, a Dubai investment firm, for $825 million.

Istithmar is expected to push Barneys to grow first in the U.S., and possibly launch the chain abroad, accelerating the domestic expansion started by Jones. Before the sale, Barneys openings were announced for San Francisco this fall, Las Vegas in early 2008 and Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2009. A store in Oyster Bay, N.Y., has been announced, but the date is not set because litigation is stalling development of The Mall at Oyster Bay. No sites overseas have been announced.

The new Seattle store has 16,000 square feet for selling on two levels, and a third level for storage, for a total of 20,000 square feet. Barneys has a corner spot, at 600 Pine Street in the Pacific Place shopping center downtown, with one street and two mall entrances.

"The store is obviously smaller than our flagships, but it looks like one in terms of design," said Michael Celestino, executive vice president of Barneys New York. He cited the store's marble floors, signature winding staircase and blue mannequins, murals and shoe salon that typify the flagships in New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Dallas and Boston.

The Seattle unit is considered a regional store, rather than a flagship, which is in the 60,000- to 80,000-square-foot range, except for the 220,000-square-foot flagship on Madison Avenue in Manhattan and the 120,000-square-foot flagship in Beverly Hills.

"The great thing about our new store is that it's in the hub of retailing. Tiffany's is adjacent and Nordstrom is across the street," Celestino said. "We had a successful operation, but we needed to grow and right-size the business."

By relocating from City Centre, at 1420 Fifth Avenue, Barneys expects a 30 percent increase in volume. Compared with the former site, there's triple the space for shoes and the Co-op, and double the space for accessories. The former store had about 11,000 square feet. Barneys would not disclose the unit's volume."Seattle is a casual city," Celestino said. "You don't hear me speaking about men's tailored clothing so much. The store is more geared to a sportswear customer, but we do have women's and men's designer," including Lanvin, Vionnet, Prada, Helmut Lang and, in shoes, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. There are also Philip Lim and Seven Jeans, among other labels, in the Co-op area.

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