By  on April 20, 2009

The Intimacy lingerie chain launched its San Diego store this month, the first part of a West Coast growth strategy for the Atlanta-based brand.

The company’s seven other stores are in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami and New York.

The San Diego unit, located in the Fashion Valley mall, is the largest, at 3,300 square feet, featuring 14 dressing rooms.

Intimacy offers a special hybrid of service and merchandise, providing a free 30-minute consultation and bra fitting, and selling more than 90 styles of bras, mostly by European labels in sizes ranging from A to F cups. Bras retail from $50 to $250. Usually customers end up purchasing three to four styles, each averaging $80.

“We like to say that we provide the service and retailing is the consequence,” said founder Susan Nethero.

Bra sales are equally divided between basics and fashion pieces. Eighty percent of the merchandise mix is foundations, with the rest made up of swimwear, shapewear, daywear and sleepwear. The company is looking to add eight to 10 West Coast stores, including locations at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., and at the Stanford Town Center in Palo Alto, Calif., as well as in Seattle and Scottsdale, Ariz. A Los Angeles location, in Westfield’s Century City mall, is to open next April.

“There is room for more than one store in Los Angeles,” said Nethero, who also looked at space on Robertson Boulevard, Melrose Avenue and Rodeo Drive.

In addition, Intimacy intends to grow its footprint on the East Coast, aiming for stores in Washington and Philadelphia, as well as another New York unit. The five-year plan is to be in 25 to 30 cities nationwide.

Nethero projected sales in excess of $3,000 a square foot in San Diego. Intimacy stores sell a minimum of $2,000 a square foot, with the New York unit generating $3,700 a square foot.

“There is an unmet need for this service, since 85 percent of women wear the wrong bra size and 65 percent of our customers have never had a fitting,” Nethero said. “If we can change women’s self-esteem, maybe we can change the landscape of America.”

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