By  on December 1, 1994

NEW YORK -- The plan to open a fleet of Speedo swimwear and activewear shops is moving ahead at full speed, putting the growing network of activewear and swimwear stores on target for projected sales of between $80 million and $100 million for 1995.

So says Linda J. Wachner, chairman and chief executive officer of Authentic Fitness Corp., owner of the Speedo stores and the Speedo brand name.

Wachner's aggressive strategy is to build a national retail chain, as well as to be a wholesaler of Speedo active sports apparel. So far, there are 43 Speedo shops in the U.S. Seven more are scheduled to open by the end of fiscal 1995.

The momentum picked up here on Oct. 31, when a Speedo unit was opened at the World Trade Center. Sales per square foot are estimated at $600 and first-year sales are projected at $1 million, Wachner said.

Two more Speedo shops were opened the day after Thanksgiving: one unit in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and another here at Third Avenue and 65th Street. Each unit is expected to generate first-year sales of $1 million, she said.

"We are doing an amazing job," said Wachner a couple of weeks ago, as she was overseeing the finishing touches of yet another Speedo unit, this one at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 58th Street. "We have opened a store every day in the U.S. for the past 30 days."

The unit on Lexington Avenue, which opened Nov. 17, is projected to generate sales of $2 million the first year, said Wachner. She said the 3,100-square-foot duplex store is the largest Speedo unit in the U.S., and has become the brand's new flagship. The unit is expected to generate sales-per-square-foot of more than $600.

Until now, the year-old unit at 90 Park Ave. here has been the Speedo flagship. The 1,050-square-foot shop generates sales per square foot of about $1,000.

"The Park Avenue unit was really a working showroom," said Wachner, noting that Authentic Fitness offices and showrooms here are also at 90 Park Ave., in the office building over the store.

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