BURLINGTON BRINGS IN THE BRANDS

Byline: Mark Tosh

NEW YORK--Burlington Coat opened its second Manhattan unit on Friday bearing an assortment steeped in the well-known moderate and bridge sportswear labels found extensively in midtown department stores.
Located on the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street, the three-level, 87,000-square-foot store is also geared to lure traffic away from off-price competitors that have invaded the area. It has more space for casual and activewear compared with the company's lower Manhattan store, which caters to the Wall Street crowd seeking career clothes.
Monroe Milstein, chairman, president and chief executive of Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse, said he expects department store competitors to hit vendors with complaints about selling to Burlington's newest store for the next two weeks.
However, he believes vendors won't buckle under the pressure, saying, "Vendors want to do as much business as they can. After a while, department stores adjust to our being here. There's a customer for each store."
Ilyse Cohen, merchandise manager for ladies sportswear, said all of the labels found at the store are carried at other Burlington units as well, but the 23rd Street assortment is weighted toward higher-ticket items and features more units of each style.
On opening day at the new store, items from DKNY, Jones New York, Anne Klein II, Alfred Dunner, Evan Picone, Nipon Studio, Tofy, The Limited and Compagnie Internationale Express (another Limited label) were spotted. The store also carries a wide selection of brand name coats, including Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, John Weitz, Jones New York and HarvA Benard. Burlington Coat is known for its strength in discounting coats.
The store has about 70,000 square feet of selling area, with about 40 percent devoted to women's. Sportswear, accessories, juniors, activewear and intimate apparel are featured on the main floor. Men's wear fills the second level, and coats, children's apparel and hardlines are on three.
Burlington Coat stores average about $150 in sales per square foot. Based on that, the new store would hit $13 million, but officials noted that it should be an above-average unit, and among the chain's top volume stores, given the heavier traffic in the area.
Burlington's first Manhattan store, a 70,000-square-foot outlet at 45 Park Place off West Broadway, ranks among the 210-unit chain's top 10 sales producers.
Burlington, which paid for some of the 23rd Street store's renovations, tried to maintain the character of the 124-year-old building and restored a three-story atrium in the rear of the store, where escalators now run. The site once housed an Ehrich Brothers dry goods store, which closed in 1991, and most recently was the site of Harry Irwin Inc., a men's suit manufacturer, and Majestic Rayon Co.
Now it's part of the expanding field of off-price outlets and category killers along lower Sixth Avenue, between 23rd and 14th Streets, once known as the Ladies Mile. T.J. Maxx opens today on 18th Street above Bed Bath & Beyond and Filene's Basement.Other stores in the area include Barnes & Noble on 22nd Street and Today's Man on 18th Street.Upcoming units include Loehmann's on 16th Street and Seventh Avenue, and Old Navy, the Gap's lower priced unit, on 18th Street and Sixth.
The off-price invasion is also hitting other parts of Manhattan. Syms Corp. said last week it plans to open at 400 Park Ave., at 54th Street, in early fall 1996.
Meanwhile, Milstein hopes his stores capitalize on the city's international tourist traffic as well as shoppers who live in other boroughs where there are no Burlington outlets.
In addition, Milstein's son, Stephen Milstein, vice president and general merchandise manager, said he expects the store to draw shoppers from the Upper East and Upper West Sides, especially for coats.
Asked about the possibility of a third Manhattan location, he replied, "I am comfortable with two locations. There's a chance, but we want to see what this store does."

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