NEW YORK — Porsche Design's small leather goods, sunglasses, writing tools, timepieces and smoking accessories take their inspiration from Porsche automobiles. They're clean and masculine in style, and highly engineered.
But U.S. distribution of Porsche nonauto products sputtered like a backfiring jalopy. Six of the eight stores closed and wholesaling was haphazard.
Now Porsche Design has a new U.S. retail strategy. Two leases for high-profile locations have been signed: on the southwest corner of Madison Avenue and 59th Street in the General Motors Building here and in NorthPark Center in Dallas, which is being overhauled and expanded.
Siegmund Rudigier, president and chief executive officer of the Porsche Design Group, said in an interview that sites are being sought in Bal Harbour and Palm Beach, Fla.; Las Vegas; Boston; Honolulu, in the Ala Moana mall, and San Francisco. He said a second location in Manhattan is possible. Another person close to the company said the Boston lease could be signed soon.
The NorthPark door is to open by November and Madison Avenue's a bit later, though in time for holiday selling. Madison Avenue will have slightly less than 2,000 square feet, while other locations will have 1,000 to 1,400 square feet. The Madison Avenue store is seen generating around $3 million in volume by the second or third year.
Renovations of the two existing Porsche Design stores in the U.S., on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and in the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., should be completed by the holiday season.
"It's the right time for the brand," Rudigier said. "Two years ago, we formed this new company to really develop the potential of the brand outside of the car business. Before, there were five different companies," all developing Porsche products, though not necessarily acting in concert to maintain brand integrity. The former U.S. stores, he said, "were not doing too bad, but we had no long-term commitment to really develop them." The product flow wasn't steady enough to sustain shopper interest season to season, he said.
Outside the U.S., stores will open in London on Aug. 12; Florence in September, and on Tokyo's Ginza in October. A Hamburg store opened July 22, and sites in Paris and Milan are being sought.
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