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Calvin’s Big Plans for White Label

Calvin Klein will soon be coming to a mall near you.

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NEW YORK — Calvin Klein will soon be coming to a mall near you.

Today, Calvin Klein Inc. will reveal more details of the retail expansion strategy for its better-priced Calvin Klein white label. The plan is to open five stores this November, followed by another five next year. On average, each unit will be about 10,000 square feet. The first five stores will be located at Beverly Center in Los Angeles; Lenox Square in Atlanta; Cherry Creek in Denver; The Mall at Partridge Creek in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Natick Collection in Natick, Mass. Cushman & Wakefield was the exclusive agent for these stores, which are owned and operated by CKI, a division of Phillips-Van Heusen.

PVH revealed its retail strategy to open full-price Calvin Klein white label stores at the company’s annual meeting last week.

Tom Murry, CKI’s president and chief operating officer, said the company had been mulling a retail strategy for its white label division for the past two years. The better line was launched with women’s sportswear in spring 2004 as a joint venture between Kellwood Co. and GAV, followed by men’s in fall 2004. While the initial launch of the better line was said to have underperformed, it was relaunched solely under Kellwood last fall, and according to a CKI statement, it now experiences “dramatic growth.”

Since its introduction, the company has entered additional licensed categories such as dresses, outerwear and suit separates. “We now have a full assortment, which, prior to now, we didn’t have,” Murry said. “We felt that now is the time to start opening these stores.”

An in-house retail design and planning team developed the store concept in tandem with Lynch Eisinger Design, and Watershed Partners Inc. contributed the required project management services.

“This initial test phase will allow us the opportunity to refine our product offerings and develop market-specific merchandising strategies that appeal to the specialty retail client base,” said John Walsh, president and chief operating officer of CKI’s retail division, in a statement. Jacquie Wolfson, creative director of Calvin Klein retail, and a merchandising team led by general manager Jyothi Rao, are working on the merchandise mix for the stores.

The 10,000-square-foot units will showcase the entire white label lifestyle assortment, from men’s and women’s sportswear to jeanswear, underwear and accessories such as shoes, sunglasses and watches. Some of the items for sale will be exclusive to the freestanding stores. “We spent a lot of time with our in-house design group, and Lynch Eisinger Design, and came to the conclusion that in order to really represent the lifestyle, this is the optimal size,” Murry said.

As reported, PVH hopes to grow the CKI business by an incremental $2 billion to $3 billion worldwide over the next five years, making it into a $7 or $7.5 billion global powerhouse. If the store concept proves to be a success, CKI plans to turn it into a 100-door chain. Five more stores are expected to open next year, and the company has singled out cities and regions like metropolitan New York, Boston, Miami, Orlando, Fla., Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Scottsdale, Ariz., for possible openings.

While the first few openings are mainly in upscale malls, Murry indicated the company is open to future units on Main Streets nationwide.

Murry wouldn’t disclose sales projections for the stores, but said, “Our plan is to open up to 100 stores, and when we reach that level, it will be very significant.”

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