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Claiborne to Open First Ellen Tracy Unit at Americana

NEW YORK — Another major brand is going vertical.<br><br>Ellen Tracy will enter the specialty retailing arena in August, when its first store is scheduled to open in the Americana Manhasset luxury shopping center on Long Island.<br><br>Ellen...

NEW YORK — Another major brand is going vertical.

This story first appeared in the January 14, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Ellen Tracy will enter the specialty retailing arena in August, when its first store is scheduled to open in the Americana Manhasset luxury shopping center on Long Island.

Ellen Tracy was purchased by Liz Claiborne three months ago, and while Claiborne made no secret that it wanted to expand Ellen Tracy, there were no specific strategies mentioned. Claiborne, however, is in the early stages of developing a retail strategy for Ellen Tracy that will have to take into account the brand’s distribution to better department and specialty stores, such as Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Ellen Tracy operates 15 outlets.

No one expected Claiborne to come up with an initial site for a store so fast, not even Claiborne executives. With the Americana, it was more a case of a prime location falling into Claiborne’s lap, rather than Claiborne in active pursuit.

“This is an opportunity that happened to present itself,” said Gail Cook, group president at Liz Claiborne, for the Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman and Sigrid Olsen brands. “We already have a Dana Buchman store in the Americana.”

Developing an Ellen Tracy chain “is certainly something we are thinking about, but we haven’t gone too far on that strategy yet. There are a lot of other things we are working on. When you buy a business, there are a million things to do.”

No other sites have been determined, and most of the details of the store in the Americana have yet to be worked out. Cook did say that the store would have about 3,000 square feet, but she said it is to be determined whether both Ellen Tracy collections — Linda Allard Ellen Tracy and Company Ellen Tracy — are to be sold there. Also, a store designer must be hired.

As for picking the Americana, “We just made this decision last week,” Cook added. “We’re very excited about it. We think it will be a great first store.”

Ellen Tracy Inc., one of the longest-standing and most successful American bridge apparel firms, was sold to Claiborne for about $180 million. Claiborne also owns Dana Buchman, another bridge line, among other apparel divisions. At the time of the purchase, Paul Charron, chairman of Claiborne, said Ellen Tracy “has legs for select specialty expansion and the potential to expand outside the U.S.,” but didn’t specify opening retail stores.

The Americana Manhasset, located on Northern Boulevard and Searingtown Road on the north shore of Long Island, is undergoing a major expansion and updating of its tenant mix, to enhance its presentation of top European and American designer brands.