By  on September 22, 2008

MILAN — Retail expansion continues to be a focal point for Moncler.

The outerwear specialist will today fete the opening of its first flagship in Milan on Via della Spiga. The 1,350-square-foot store has the same cozy lodge feeling that characterizes Moncler’s other units through Belgian stone, wood boiserie and wood and crystal fixtures.

Next in line is Moncler’s first U.S. store, which will open in December in Aspen, Colo., followed by one in Vail, Colo., in the near future, said Remo Ruffini, the firm’s chairman.

Ruffini added that after a test run in ski resorts, he plans on openings in New York, Boston and Chicago.

“We only started selling in the U.S. three years ago, but the feedback and sellout are very positive, even with the weak dollar,” said Ruffini.

The current collection, he added, raked in 10 million euros, or $14.3 million, in sales in America.

To capitalize on its heritage, Moncler’s retail rollout has focused on chic ski resorts such as Chamonix and Megève, France; Saint Moritz and Crans-sur-Sierre, Switzerland, and Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy. But the brand is also looking east and will inaugurate an outpost in Hong Kong in December.

“China doesn’t have mountain resorts, so we chose an international and touristy city to check out the potential of our brand,” said Ruffini.

Carlyle Group in August acquired a 48 percent stake in Moncler SpA, the holding company for the Moncler Group. Ruffini, who owns 38 percent of the firm (with the remainder held by other investors), said for the moment no major changes have occurred, partially because the transaction won’t be finalized until December.

Last year Moncler generated net profits of 18 million euros, or $24.7 million at average exchange, on revenues of 253.7 million euros, or $347.8 million.

Ruffini feels that with the latest addition, the high-end men’s line called Gamme Bleu designed by Thom Browne, Moncler’s range is well represented. The down-filled accessories, carried in 250 sale points, are also a fast growing category.

Gamme Bleu is the male counterpart of Gamme Rouge, a small collection of deluxe outerwear pieces with sartorial detailing that is now designed by Giambattista Valli. Both top-of-the-line collections replace Moncler’s cobranding projects with, in the past, Junya Watanabe, Nicholas Ghesquière and Fendi that launched the brand in the designer world.

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