By  on September 22, 1994

LONDON -- Joan & David has opened its second European store here as part of an aggressive international expansion program.

Joan Helpern, the company's president and founder, described the 7,500-square-foot, two-floor freestanding store on Bond Street as the company's worldwide flagship.

In addition to the freestanding store, Joan & David has opened an 1,800-square-foot leased department at Harvey Nichols, its second at the department store; is doubling the size of its freestanding Paris store over the next few months to about 6,000 square feet; opened a 3,000-square-foot freestanding store in Barcelona, its third in Europe; opened a franchised store in Sao Paulo, Brazil, its first in South America, and tripled the sizes of its stores in South Coast Plaza and Century City near Los Angeles and Copley Plaza in Boston.

The company also is looking for a site for a new store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and for a second site in New York to be its flagship there, in addition to its existing store on Madison Avenue, Helpern said.

The freestanding London store was designed by architect Eva Jiricna with slightly curving, caramel-colored wooden walls and a dramatic spiral metal and glass staircase to the basement level.

The store carries the full range of Joan & David and Joan Helpern Signature women's apparel and accessories; men's accessories, and women's and men's footwear. The store should do about $7 million in its first year, Helpern said.

"This is a major step for our company," she added. "Some people might consider it extraordinary that we are opening our flagship store in London rather than in New York, but we have been in London for six years and have had an exceptional reaction to our footwear."

Joan & David opened an 850-square-foot leased footwear department on the second floor of Harvey Nichols in 1988. The new 1,800-square-foot leased department on the store's first floor will be devoted to the Joan Helpern Signature apparel and footwear collections. Harvey Nichols will be the only department store in the world to carry Joan Helpern Signature rtw.

The Signature rtw should have sales of about $5 million at retail in its first season, and will be carried at Joan & David stores.Overall, Joan & David has group sales of more than $100 million a year. About 60 percent of sales are in footwear and the remainder are in apparel and accessories, although Helpern said sales at the freestanding London store should be split 50-50.

Helpern said rtw sales are still developing since many of the company's stores are still too small to display the full range. She eventually expects the company's sales to be equally split between apparel and footwear.

The Signature collections are not aimed at superseding the Joan & David lines and the two collections are priced about the same, Helpern stressed. The Signature line is more fashion-forward in terms of design, fabrications and silhouette. Both the Joan Helpern Signature and Joan & David apparel collections are produced by GFT in Italy.

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