By  on July 20, 2007

LA JOLLA, Calif. — Surf-driven brand Roxy is expanding its retail base with a colorful new store design to stay competitive with teen retailers such as Hollister Co. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc.

The 17-year-old label, owned by Quiksilver Inc., based in Huntington Beach, Calif., launched an international growth plan on July 2 with the opening of a 1,100-square-foot store in La Jolla, Calif., an affluent beachside community north of San Diego.

Quiksilver has tested Roxy as a stand-alone retail concept, opening four stores in Arizona, California and Hawaii since 1996, but is only now poised to expand the brand's retail operations. The company plans four Roxy boutiques in the U.S. by the end of the year, in Orlando, Fla., Paramus, N.J., Wailea, Hawaii, and Detroit.

The Motor City may seem an unlikely locale for a surf brand, but the company hopes to "reach out to our girl who lives in the heartland," said Randy Hild, senior vice president of global marketing for Roxy. "We believe that the teen girls there are looking for our products, but our distribution thus far has been light in areas beyond the coastal communities."

In Europe, the company plans 50 Roxy doors in the next two years, a mix of licensed, company-owned and jointly owned units. Twenty of the leases have been signed, Hild said. "How the mix is going to be is still falling into place....So far, there's not a plan to do a major European city with a big flagship store, but that can and should be part of the plan in the future."

Outside the Roxy boutiques, the label is carried in Quiksilver boutiques, major U.S. department stores, including Macy's and Nordstrom, and in surf shops around the world.

The company decided to get behind a full-fledged retail program for Roxy after market research showed that "90 percent of all teen girls know and recognize the Roxy brand, but they don't know where to buy it," Hild said. "Less than 1 percent [of female teens] knows that Roxy has anything to do with Quiksilver."

Department stores, another major distribution point for the brand, "haven't been user-friendly for teens," he said. Vertical retailers [such as] Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch have been [successful], and we really believe that we have to be in that arena."The La Jolla unit, which is connected to a new Quiksilver Kids store via an entrance cut into a shared wall, is on a street-side shopping complex in the town's quaint commercial heart. Inside is the full breadth of the Roxy product: the signature apparel collection, Roxy Girl, Teenie Wahine (toddlers), accessories and lifestyle products such as branded pillows. Retail prices for the core brand range from $22 to $78.

The store's youthful, offbeat design was the concept of Los Angeles interior designer Barbara Bestor.

The entrance is a cube-shape portal covered on three sides by a logo-themed graphic design. An oversize photograph of a girl swimming underwater covers the back wall of the entryway, one of many "supergraphics" in the boutique that will change in theme (from surf to ski) with the seasons.

Bestor was given the mission of "getting the outdoor experience into a mall," Hild said. The designer created structures that loosely resemble beach huts. The multitasking "huts" jut off the walls and hold surfboards and folded apparel, also providing seating and additional display space for necklaces and key chains.

Lacquered and brightly painted pinewood is used everywhere, in the built-in shelving and cubbies and the movable display pieces reminiscent of homemade children's play tables. "Pine is this cheap, natural wood that has a funky warmth," said Steve Jones, visual consultant for retail for Quiksilver. Cutting through the wood tones is eye-popping color — mostly fuchsia and royal blue — found in Roxy signs and in the store's graphics.

"If there's one thing we've learned from opening [Quiksilver and Roxy] stores, it's to simplify things,'' Jones said. "In our first stores, the design took center stage. Now we allow the product to come forward."

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