By  on January 31, 2006

NEW YORK — Pronovias, the world's largest bridal manufacturer, is getting ready to set up shop here.

The Barcelona-based company, which holds licenses to Valentino, Elie Saab and Badgley Mischka, has purchased an 18,000-square-foot building at 14 East 52nd Street for $12.7 million. The five-story building has air rights for an additional 20,000 square feet.

Alberto Palatchi, Pronovias' founder and chief executive officer, said the firm will build at least one additional floor and might eventually add eight floors. Once the renovation is complete, all six floors will be used for retail. The store is scheduled to open in fall 2007.

Pronovias' wholesale accounts here include Kleinfeld, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue.

"Opening a store will not change our wholesale customer base in New York City," Palatchi said. "We plan to continue with all our existing customers. We hope that having a flagship will increase our business with them, too. We are trying to give strength to our brand. We're not going to go from being a manufacturer to being just a retailer. We have 3,000 wholesale customers worldwide. It's important that our customers see this as strengthening our brand."

The first two floors of the store will house designer brands, each in its own boutique. Floors four through six will be devoted to the Pronovias collections. The store will have four to seven changing rooms on each floor that will be spacious and spaced out enough to afford privacy for brides-to-be. A separate VIP department will cater to high-profile clients.

Pronovias stores offer customers beverages such as coffee and champagne, but Palatchi knows that's not enough. "Service is something we will have to reinvent," he said. "This has to be the best shop in America. Privacy is going to be the differential factor."

While Pronovias is known for designer gowns costing tens of thousands of dollars, the new store will aim to be egalitarian. "Our price range is very wide," Palatchi said. "We have dresses from $2,000 to $30,000. We serve all brides with the same high standards."

Pronovias, which had sales of 120 million euros, or $145 million at current exchange, for the year ended last Sept. 30, is estimating sales of 140 million euros, or $169 million, for 2006.The company plans to expand its retail network and in the next two to three years wants to open 15 company-owned flagships in major world capitals, Palatchi said, adding that Pronovias will invest $150 million in property through 2008. In Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe Pronovias is working with franchisees. There are now 75 franchised shops and 80 company-owned shops worldwide.

Palatchi declined to discuss sales volume for the new store. "We're not doing this just for money," he said. "We want to succeed in creating the best bridal shop in America."

Jeffrey Paisner, a retail broker at Lansco, represented the tenant.

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