By  on April 19, 2007

NEW YORK — Rebecca Taylor is getting serious about Asia.

The contemporary sportswear company already does a significant business in Japan, with 35 freestanding stores and licensed products, including handbags, eyewear, shoes and jewelry that isn't sold in the U.S. The company also has four stores in South Korea and three in Taiwan, but by the end of this year, the Rebecca Taylor presence in the region will be even larger.

"We find that the Asian customer really embraces our product and they really like the feminine look of Rebecca Taylor," said Beth Bugdaycay, partner and chief executive officer. "Also, they really like the full look. It isn't an item-driven business in Asia. They want the head-to-toe, and with the opening of freestanding stores, we can give them that."

To help with the expansion plans in Asia and worldwide, the company has just hired Bruce Migliaccio as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. He joined the firm from Giorgio Armani, where he was cfo for seven years.

"Bruce's role is really to help us expand in the proper way," Bugdaycay said. "We've been selling our product in Asia for about five years now with great sell-throughs, and we do better and better each year."

To help broaden that business, Bugdaycay said the company plans to open one store in Indonesia in June, followed by three more stores there next year. Also planned for a June opening is one store in Hong Kong, with two more planned before the end of this year and then two more stores next year. Bugdaycay said that the next stop after these openings will be Mainland China.

"We are looking to partner with someone in China," she said. "It's such a large territory and we want to make sure we are in the right areas."

All Rebecca Taylor stores will mirror the brand's location here at 260 Mott Street. In addition, the stores will be getting a bit of a facelift next month. The store's artwork will be redesigned to include beaded windows, crystals hanging from the ceiling and a unique light installation.

"It will still be very girly in feeling with a bit of fantasy and magic in the design," Bugdaycay explained. "It's just a bit of an update to what the stores look like now. We are moving the design forward and making it a bit more modern."In addition to the Asian expansion plans, Bugdaycay said she also is looking to open more stores in the U.S., hoping to unveil at least three stores in the next two years. Rebecca Taylor only owns one freestanding store in the U.S. She is also looking to open locations in London and Turkey.

"Some brands think that stores will damage their wholesale business," she said. "But we see it as a support to our wholesale."

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