By  on January 30, 2008

LONDON — Jimmy Choo is set to open three freestanding stores around the Mediterranean over the next six months.

In May, the company will open a two-story, 1,728-square-foot store at Cannes, France's new Miramar 65 Croisette, in time for the international film festival.

The following month, Choo will open a 2,160-square-foot shop in Barcelona on the Paseo de Gracia. The store, in the heart of the city's luxury shopping district, will be the third Choo unit in Spain after Madrid and Puerto Banus.

Over the summer, the company also has plans to open a store on Rome's Via dei Condotti. The store, which will span 756 square feet, will be the second Italian unit after a shop in Milan.

"We have a strong following at our directly operated stores in Paris, Madrid and Milan, and we believe that adding these new locations will allow us to better service the Jimmy Choo clientele in these countries," said chief executive officer Joshua Schulman.

The openings will take the number of Choo stores in Europe to 20, and all three stores will reflect the global design concept, with a Forties-inspired boudoir atmosphere.

In other Choo news, the company has hired the New York-based AR as its first major creative agency. AR will be working alongside Jimmy Choo founder and president Tamara Mellon on the ad campaigns, beginning with the fall.

"They understand exactly my vision for Jimmy Choo," said Mellon. "Working with an agency of this caliber is consistent with my goal to elevate our brand to one of the world's leading luxury houses."

Previously, the campaigns had been produced in-house. AR's clients include Valentino, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers and Jones New York.

The moves at Choo come as the company continues its fast-paced growth, which includes plans to launch sunglasses and eyewear this year and a new Saba handbag in the spring. Choo earlier this month reported that sales rose 28 percent in 2007 to 85.6 million pounds, or $171.3 million at average exchange rates. Sales at Choo's directly operated stores were up 23 percent to 51.9 million pounds, or $102.8 million. The biggest retail drivers in the period were Europe, with 53 percent growth, the U.K., with 27 percent, and the U.S., with 23 percent. Wholesale sales to third parties, including Choo franchisees, rose 38 percent to 33.7 million pounds, or $67.4 million.

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