Chico’s FAS Inc. on Tuesday said the Chico’s brand’s first international stores will be opened in Mexico in the spring.A store at Perisur mall in Mexico City will be opened through a franchise agreement with El Puerto de Liverpool, S.A.B. de C.V. A second freestanding unit will open in Villahermosa.In addition, Liverpool plans to roll out six shops-in-shop at Liverpool department stores during the first half of the year.Chico’s was founded in 1983 as a boutique selling Mexican folk art and cotton sweaters in Sanibel Island, Fla. The company celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. Today, Chico’s is known for color, big and bold patterns and animal prints. Its exclusively designed private branded clothing for women includes the new elevated Black Label collection, 9 to 5abulous for working women and Zynergy activewear.The store design of the new boutiques will be based on a new prototype. The more sophisticated concept has warm tones and subtle animal prints, woven entry doors, luggage details on fixtures and layers of artifacts used as props.“Mexico is a great first foray into the international arena for the Chico’s brand,” said Bill Bine, Chico’s vice president of international operations. “It represents an important part of the overall global expansion of Chico’s FAS.”Chico’s has also said it will launch in Canada next fall. “We have a very strong Canadian base known to us through our Web site and seen in Florida,” said Cinny Murray, president of Chico’s. “We’re going to Toronto. The customer is there.”Chico’s international expansion comes against the backdrop of disappointing financial results in the first nine months of last year. For the period ended Nov. 2, Chico’s FAS reported net income of $66.2 million, compared with last year’s $148.7 million, a 55.5 percent drop. Excluding an impairment charge of $64.3 million in the most recent quarter and other charges, net income for the nine months would have been $131.1 million, a 12.3 percent decline from $149.5 million last year.Chico’s has 700 boutiques today. Murray said about 800 domestic stores is the ceiling. “It’s natural to go international,” Murray said.
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