By  on May 10, 2005

NEW YORK — Building flagships is back on the agenda at Barneys New York.

The retailer, which was bought by Jones Apparel Group last year, has plans to more than double its number of flagships by 2008, while at the same time maintaining the expansion of its Co-op format. The aim is to achieve Jones’ goal of growing Barneys New York into a $1 billion business.

“Right now, we are very busy planning through 2008. The number one priority is to roll out flagships. Co-ops are number two,” stated Howard Socol, the chairman, chief executive and president of Barneys.

Barneys executives have hailed Co-op’s expansion potential since the first freestanding unit opened on 18th Street in Chelsea in 2000. The smaller, more specialized shops will always outnumber Barneys’ full-line flagships. They’re less costly, less risky, and the formula seems down pat.

Now it’s time to move on with flagships, which require precision site selection, and far greater planning and creativity in store design and merchandising, and commitments from designers. Although there could be as many as nine or 10 flagships by 2008, Socol didn’t specify the number. “This was the strategy we put together and really the strategy that Jones bought. Jones has money to take Barneys to the next level,” he said.

The Jones Apparel Group bought Barneys in December for $397.3 million from two vulture funds, Whippoorwill Associates and Bay Harbour Management, which in 1999 bailed out Barneys from bankruptcy stemming from its ill-conceived expansion program in the Nineties. In many locations, the merchandise was too avant-garde or too “New York” in orientation. So for Barneys’ second attempt at expansion, tailoring the assortment for each market will be material.

Under Socol’s tenure, Barneys has returned to the growth path. Now, he wants to push it further. A Boston flagship is set for March 2006 and locations for future flagships are being scouted in Las Vegas, San Francisco’s Union Square, Miami and Washington. Certain cities, such as San Francisco, could house a flagship and a Co-op.

Real estate sources also cite Lenox Square in Atlanta, NorthPark Center in Dallas, Fashion Valley in San Diego, and NorthBrook and Old Orchard shopping centers in suburban Chicago, as possible flagship locations.

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