By  on December 19, 2005

NEW YORK — Barneys New York is blazing ahead with its nationwide expansion plans in major metropolitan markets.

The retailer is said to be looking at sites from Long Island in New York to Las Vegas and everywhere in between for full-sized flagships. It fits in with Barneys' drive to build itself into a $1 billion business under new owner Jones Apparel Group.

The expansion is the second time Barneys has attempted to roll out flagships after its ill-fated attempt in the Nineties. Barneys also faces increasing competition this time around in the turbulent retail landscape.

The Neiman Marcus Group will soon announce a prototype for smaller stores selling contemporary merchandise and has been eyeing a few locations to launch it, including Chevy Chase, Md. Also, Nordstrom this year bought Jeffrey, a designer store in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan and Atlanta, and could open additional Jeffrey stores.

With a great deal of space in malls being abandoned by retailers that are consolidating, developers are seeking to upgrade the offering with new retail formats, restaurants or other forms of entertainment. Federated Department Stores will be selling off dozens of locations.

In an interview earlier this year, Howard Socol, chairman, chief executive and president of Barneys, said, "Right now, we are very busy planning through 2008. The number-one priority is to roll out flagships. Co-Ops are number two."

In Vegas, sources said Barneys is on the floor plans for The Shoppes at The Palazzo, opening in fall 2007, a major upscale project in The Venetian Resort. The Venetian is owned by General Growth Properties, the nation's second largest mall developer.

On Long Island, Barneys is in talks with Taubman Centers, which is planning a mall in Oyster Bay. Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom are lined up to be tenants there as well.

Those sites are in addition to the previously announced Barneys Boston flagship scheduled to open in Copley Place in the spring, and a Barneys opening in NorthPark Center in Dallas this fall. An announcement on the Dallas site — in a former Lord & Taylor store — is expected soon and the store should be open by next fall. Other locations may not be announced for some time.Barneys officials and real estate sources have previously cited San Francisco, Atlanta, San Diego, Miami, Washington and the Chicago metro area as potential locations for stores. The vision is for rolling out Barneys New York "flagships" through 2008 of at least 50,000 to 80,000 square feet and a full representation of designer and private label merchandise, while continuing to roll out Barneys Co-Op shops.

Barneys declined to comment on the Las Vegas, Long Island and Dallas reports.

Sources also said Barneys has been scouting SoHo, along Broadway, and the Meatpacking District, near 14th and Gansevoort Streets. But sources close to the company said another big Barneys store in Manhattan is unlikely considering the company closed its original flagship on Seventh Avenue and 17th Street about a year after it opened the Madison Avenue flagship in 1993, which is the company's largest at 220,000 square feet.

But Barneys has to be careful opening flagships, considering its merchandise doesn't have universal appeal. The expansion in the Nineties failed in part because the offerings were too avant-garde or too New York for other cities. Also, full-line stores could syphon sales from existing Co-Ops, if they are situated too close. A full-line Barneys in Oyster Bay could affect the Barneys unit in the Americana Manhasset shopping center in Manhasset on Long Island.

However, Bloomingdale's operates two major stores in Manhattan, the 59th Street flagship and the store at 504 Broadway in SoHo, and has said both are successful.

Several factors are propelling the Barneys expansion. First, Jones bought the business in December 2004 for nearly $400 million and believes Barneys can double in size to exceed $1 billion in sales largely by opening several more full-line stores and Co-Ops. There are three flagships currently operating — on Madison Avenue, in Beverly Hills and Chicago — and smaller stores in Manhasset, N.Y.; Chestnut Hill, Mass., and Seattle. There are also eight Co-Ops around the country. Last year, the chain reported $444.2 million in volume.

In Manhattan, "Barneys is absolutely looking downtown in SoHo near Bloomingdale's and in the Meatpacking District," said Robert K. Futterman, chief executive of Robert K. Futterman & Associates, a leading retail leasing firm. "They would consider one of the areas for a full-line 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot store. There is space available downtown on Broadway, and in the Meatpacking District, you could get creative with space," meaning combining a few sites that become available. "The Meatpacking District is great. It's really like the Left Bank of Paris, with a blend of restaurants, nightclubs, great shopping and arts. We are seeing an enormous amount of interest."In the past few years, the Meatpacking District has attracted such brands as Puma and La Perla. Theory is planning a store, and Jeffrey and Scoop have been expanding, with Scoop creating a children's store. The SoHo House, Pastis, Spice Market and Hotel Gansevoort are among the growing number of draws.

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