By  on December 30, 2004

NEW YORK — Esprit’s retail ride in the U.S. is taking some more twists and turns, as the German-based sportswear brand quickly remakes the selling floors of its recently opened American stores.

The biggest step to maximize productivity involves introducing Esprit’s edc junior collection to certain U.S. doors.

After virtually disappearing from the American market, Esprit came back with a vengeance last September by opening a 10,000-square-foot store in the Flatiron neighborhood here. Esprit’s last U.S. store closed about three years before.

Five more stores subsequently opened last fall, bringing the total number of locations operating to six, in New York and New Jersey.

Esprit officials said that edc will debut in the Time Warner Center and SoHo locations set to open next spring, as well as the Flatiron store. Edc is currently sold only in Europe, and Esprit’s U.S. stores will carve out space to elevate the subbrand, primarily by reducing the square footage that’s been allocated for the Esprit men’s wear collection.

Originally, Esprit’s plan in its return to U.S. retailing was to present a more adult and sophisticated fashion image and sell just the Esprit brand, now considered a better contemporary label. The company’s idea was to convince consumers that it was not the same junior brand that was so popular in the Eighties.

But since the return to retail in America, Esprit has come to think that it won’t confuse customers by mixing labels in the same stores. About 25 percent of the selling space will be turned over to edc, which is priced about 5 to 10 percent cheaper than the Esprit collection.

Asked why edc was not introduced initially when the stores opened, Heinz Krogner, deputy chairman and group chief executive officer, replied: “It’s a learning process. We have to understand that edc is not separate. It’s a subbrand of Esprit and fits into the whole product strategy. Edc adds a lot of newness,” Krogner went on to say. “It’s the younger sister to the Esprit customer. It’s a little naughty, and more fashion. It makes the whole store fresher and younger.”

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