By and  on April 29, 2009

LONDON — Missoni is continuing its retail push, opening its first stand-alone store here as well as a unit in Casablanca, Morocco.

The three-story London unit on Sloane Street carries the brand’s main collections, including home.

“It only took 56 years for us to do it,” creative director Angela Missoni said with a laugh of opening the London store. “We’d been postponing it for years. I wanted to open here 15 years ago because England has always been a very good market for us. But we were small and doing everything ourselves. Now that we’ve started to put an organizational structure in place, we can focus on these projects.”

The 3,500-square-foot store is housed in the former Nicole Farhi space, and the neutral interiors are fashioned from stone, glass and steel in the style of the Milan and Madrid new-generation flagships. Missoni declined to give projections for the first year, although she said sales have been healthy at the store since its soft opening in December. Bestsellers include an asymmetrical dress and a sequined tunic, both priced at 2,070 pounds, or $3,063 at current exchange.

And while the London opening may be a milestone for the Missonis, there are more ahead. The unit in Casablanca opened last week and marks the company’s first store in Africa. Covering 1,566 square feet over two floors, the store carries Missoni’s women’s apparel and accessories collections and the home line. A gold-fringed lamp from the home collection stands out in the entrance, and a staircase with crystal rails and iridescent natural vinyl steps leads to the second floor, which is dedicated to home.

In early July, the brand’s largest-ever store will open in Los Angeles, on the corner of North Rodeo Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard. That store will span 6,900 square feet.

A 1,300-square-foot unit carrying swimwear and beach-oriented accessories will open simultaneously in Malibu. A 3,300-square-foot unit in Beirut, Lebanon, will open later this year.

The stores are a mix of wholly owned units and franchises. London is a franchise and Los Angeles is a company-owned store, Missoni said.

The brand’s overall sales have been holding up, Missoni said, considering the worldwide crisis. Sales of the fall pre-collection were down 7 percent year-on-year. The fall main collection market has not closed yet, but Missoni said she expects sales to be down “around 11 percent.” Italy, she said, was particularly robust, with sales having increased slightly this year.

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