By  on April 28, 2008

DALLAS — The parties for Tod's launch here this month at NorthPark Center merited appearances by global chief executive officer Claudio Castiglioni from Milan, creative director Derek Lam and other key executives.

It was a testament to the importance the company places on its latest store design aimed at maximizing sales. The look bowed Feb. 20 at Tod's in Milan followed by London on March 18 and Rome on April 10.

"We really wanted to make it an inviting experience that feels warm and sensual, but highlights a playfulness and color, and a formal-informal aspect," Lam said. "We love it."

Handbags are positioned on backlit recessed shelves that occasionally frame the objects. Shoes are arrayed in colorful matrixes and grids that each feature a single style. A central cluster of mannequins highlights the clothing.

All the materials are from Italy, including composite stone floors and tobacco-colored leather sofas that resemble old-fashioned car seats — a reference to Tod's signature product, the driving shoe.

The 2,200-square-foot Dallas unit is Tod's eighth in the U.S. and 130th worldwide. The company will focus on increasing business in existing stores rather than opening more American units, Castiglioni said. Twenty stores are slated to open this year in the burgeoning markets of China, India and Russia.

"We are facing challenges in America," Castiglioni said. "The client is a little worried. We have to pay attention and put our efforts to making people aware of who we are. The concern is more on the wholesale end than our retail stores."

He sees growth potential in introducing a greater selection of sterling and leather jewelry, and gifts in June. "Jewelry could be the new handbag," Lam said.

Another way to boost sales is to expand distribution of the clothing that is sold only in 15 Tod's stores worldwide, including four in the U.S.: New York, Beverly Hills, Miami and Dallas.

Castiglioni envisions carrying it in more Tod's stores and to wholesale accounts in fall 2009.

Castiglioni remained optimistic despite economic problems in the U.S., which accounted for 10 percent of Tod's $1.05 billion, or about 657.1 million euros, in revenue last year.

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