By and  on February 5, 2008

Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., whose style is synonymous with Greenwich, Conn., plans to build a two-level flagship at 263 Greenwich Avenue, taking over space formerly occupied by the Gap.

The Gap, a fixture on Greenwich Avenue since 1990, closed its doors on Jan. 27. However, Gap's other divisions, GapKids and babyGap, and Banana Republic, continue to operate stores directly across the street.

Polo has been looking for a suitable location to return to Greenwich Avenue for years, and rumors had been circulating since last summer that the company was negotiating for the Gap space, but wanted to knock it down to build a two-level store.

"Yes, we are in fact taking that space," confirmed a Polo spokesman. He said it hasn't been decided which of the Polo Ralph Lauren women's, men's, children's and home collections will be showcased at the location, but confirmed the company would be building a two-level store. The Polo store is expected to open in fall 2009.

Real estate sources estimate the store could conceivably be around 18,000 to 20,000 square feet and would likely be considered a flagship, housing Lauren's designer women's and men's collections. "It'll be a statement. It's been in the works for a long time," said one source.

"We need to decide what's appropriate for the brand and what's appropriate for the community," said the Polo spokesman. Polo already has a Rugby store at 195 Greenwich Avenue, and has both Rugby and Ralph Lauren boutiques in New Canaan, Conn.

Polo's neighbors on Greenwich Avenue will include Richards, Scoop, Saks Fifth Avenue, Banana Republic, Best & Co., Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Zara, Sunglass Hut and Anne Fontaine.

In the Nineties, Polo had a women's and men's Collection store at 140 Greenwich Avenue that is now occupied by Tiffany, which opened in 2000.

In other Polo news, the company said it appointed Edouard Roche as president of Impact 21 Co. Ltd., a majority-owned subsidiary of Polo, to assume responsibility for the strategic leadership and management of Polo's business in Japan.

Roche, who is fluent in Japanese, worked at L'Oréal for 17 years, most recently as worldwide general manager of Redken 5th Avenue and before that as worldwide general manager of Tokyo-based Shu Uemura Cosmetics K.K.Roche will join Polo on Feb. 18 and, effective May 1, he will replace Tadao Enomoto, who said Monday he plans to retire at the end of April, consistent with plans discussed last May when Polo acquired a 97.3 percent stake in Impact 21 through a tender offer. Established in 1984, Impact 21 is a subsidiary of Polo Ralph Lauren that manufactures and sells Ralph Lauren, Polo Ralph Lauren and Polo Jeans brand apparel.

Roche will report to Scott Bowman, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. president of International Business Development. In addition, Toshio Hiyama, president and ceo of Polo Ralph Lauren Japan Corp., the Japanese master licensee and a fully owned subsidiary of Polo Ralph Lauren, will continue to report to Bowman, who will also become Impact 21 chairman on Enomoto's retirement.

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