DALLAS — Jaeger is keeping up with the times.

The venerable British brand is in the early stages of a five-year revitalization campaign meant to shed its 120-year-old, blue-blood image in favor of an updated but sophisticated brand with broad market appeal, with North America an important part of the plan.

The vertically integrated company has 75 freestanding stores worldwide, plus 150 shop-in-shop or leased departments. There are 35 shops in the U.S. and Canada combined, along with a handful of specialty store accounts that carry Jaeger’s women’s collections. Men’s collections are available only in Europe.

In May 2001, Jaeger jump-started its new image campaign in the U.K. with a fresh focus, including an updated signature line and an exclusive and edgier collection designed by Bella Freud, accompanied by a new marketing and advertising campaign and a revamped store design that bowed in Leeds, England, and is being rolled out across the U.K.

Now, Jaeger has set its sights on North America and has unveiled its first new-store prototype outside the U.K. at the upscale NorthPark Center shopping mall in Dallas.

The 1,500-square-foot store, designed by Britain’s David Collins, features a sleek rectangular floor plan with rich, textured carpets and blond hardwood floors. Fixtures are silver metal and dark marble. Towering black-and-white fashion photos from Jaeger’s current ad campaign, shot by Nathaniel Goldberg, line the walls and are also used as backdrops in the store’s front windows.

First-year sales are planned at $750,000, said Ian Welham, chief operating officer for Jaeger North America, who was on hand for a cocktail party last month to christen the new store.

Jaeger’s New York store on Madison Avenue, which opened in 1973, is on track for sales of $1.5 million this year, Welham noted.

"We’re rolling out a new brand image for Jaeger with this store prototype and our fashion collections," Welham said.

"Dallas is one of the leading fashion markets in the U.S. and the perfect place to launch our new prototype in North America. It’s centrally located and will be one of the four cornerstones of our North American business structure, along with New York, San Francisco and Chicago. The prototype will be rolled out to other stores over a period of time, which we’re still defining."Jaeger has produced apparel since 1884, when its first shop opened in London with a collection of wool items. It evolved into a luxury brand, with many styles cut from cashmere, silk and camel hair.

Jaeger’s brand-repositioning campaign returns the company to its classic luxury roots, and the plan appears to be paying off, according to Welham, who said sales are ahead over a year ago.

Sales in 2001 were $225 million for the Coats PLC division, which owns Jaeger and the Viyella moderate and better-priced retail chain in the U.K., compared with $215 million in 2000, based on currency exchange rates at the time. In September, Coats PLC put Jaeger and Viyella up for sale.

At the Dallas store, apparel is merchandised by fashion trends, which are divided into about a dozen groups each season. Carolyn Springett, product director for women’s wear, oversees the design of Jaeger’s signature collection, with women age 35 and older as the target customers.

Key looks include: wool, angora and cashmere coats and shearling jackets; empire wool jersey dresses; wool pinstripe, herringbone and Prince of Wales checked jackets; A-line skirts and slim pants and ribbed knit turtleneck sweaters and scarfs.

For evening, there are satin-trimmed tuxedos, brocade jackets and printed velvet one-shoulder dresses. Retail prices range from $195 for a funnel-neck knit top to $250 for wool trousers and $395 for a belted wool jacket.

In a bid to court new and younger Jaeger customers, specifically those less than 35, the company signed British designer Bella Freud last year to create an exclusive trend-driven contemporary collection.

The 65-piece fall collection includes: boldly printed cropped jackets; striped flared pants; poet-sleeve tops; skinny tweed skirts and jackets with a SixtiesLondon edge and lots of knits.

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