NEW YORK — Topshop has a clear strategy for its upcoming assault on the U.S. market — transplant the high-octane, trendy experience of its London flagship.
Those same spunky harlequin dresses, tuxedo jackets and sequined hot pants that play well in the U.K. are coming to Broadway in mid-October with a 40,000-square-foot store composed of four selling floors; glossy shelving; futuristic lighting tubes and a DJ booth, both suspended from the ceiling; an "army" of mannequins; a shoe lounge; 32 changing rooms, and a VIP suite for the expected celebrity clientele.
For a moderate-to-better-priced store, the service, executives contend, will rival that of a luxury retailer, with personal shoppers, or "stylists," for women for the Topshop line, and "style advisers" for men for the company's Topman brand. The Topshop to Go at-home shopping service and Express for home delivery will also be offered. As for pricing, that will adhere to the London strategy — no price promotions.
The new store will be at 478 Broadway.
"This is going to be Topshop in all its glory, identical. It's not going to be Americanized. It will be London transferred to New York," said Sir Philip Green, the retailer's owner, during an interview at Industria, the West Village showroom space where many items from the vast collection are on display.
Green arrived in town this week for some advance publicity, and to prowl for other Manhattan sites. On his radar — 34th Street, and Fifth Avenue and Lexington Avenue in the Fifties. He said he's not close to securing a second site, but things could change during this visit. "I've got 10 sites to look at in three days. If the right deal comes up, I would do it," Green said. "If I find three, I will open three."
But nothing other than the SoHo opening is imminent, he added.
As far as bringing Topshop to America's malls, "There is no way we are going that route." He prefers street-level locations, at the right rent.
Green also prefers sticking to full-price. He acknowledged Americans are used to shopping for fashion that's deeply discounted and that retailers are notorious price promoters. "Everybody is fighting on price. That's not our business."
Is he worried about the timing of Topshop's U.S. debut, with the economy not likely to recover? For the near-term, maybe, but he's in it for the long term. "The U.S. economy and the U.K. economy are similar. They both have a lot of issues. But if you got something special giving people a reason to shop, you will do business," said Green, who is one of Britain's richest men with a net worth estimated at more than $6 billion and retail holdings that include department store BHS, Miss Selfridge and other fashion chains.
He declined to say how much volume he expects on Broadway. But sources indicated the company hopes for $30 million to $40 million in first-year sales.
That, of course, is nowhere near the enormous volume generated at Topshop's famed Oxford Circus store in London. The 90,000-square-foot U.K. flagship is adding about 12,000 square feet of space, bringing it up to about 100,000 square feet, and is projected to hit $300 million in sales this year.
The Topshop chain, including Topshop for women's wear and Topman for men's wear, is projected at $1.8 billion in sales and north of $300 million in profits for 2008, for a more than 10 percent increase. "We are trending well, as tough as it's been," Green said.
In Europe, new styles are displayed virtually every day at Topshop, and there's a new major trend story introduced every month in the front of each store. Generally, there are four or five mini collections, each presenting a different trend, but with crossover possibilities.
In women's, Topshop of late has done well with the oversize T-shirt, retailing from $30 to $40, and skinny bottom look, including the "drain pipe" jean, from $40 to $60. The store is also big on dresses, particularly in prom, going out, and Cabaret-inspired silhouettes, clown collars, bows and belts, often in the $150 range.
Prints are important as well, and, for fall, are Art Deco and bandstand inspired, with flags and stars and stripes motifs. The retailer also tests spring looks during November to get out first with a hot trend.
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