By  on July 2, 2009

It’s been only a year since Edgar Huber joined the Liz Claiborne Inc.-owned Juicy Couture brand as its first president, and he’s already made strides in his overall growth plan.

Huber, a seasoned beauty industry executive, has opened several new stores worldwide — a London unit will open next week, as well as three more in the U.S. in the next few weeks — and he’s streamlined the business by shelving the superhigh-end Couture Couture brand and shuttering the Dirty English men’s label in order to concentrate on increasing the segments that have the most potential. The ultimate goal, he said, is to develop the Juicy Couture brand, which did $600 million in sales last year, into a multibillion-dollar business.

“Men’s just doesn’t fit well into the business model. It’s such a separate business,” he said. “We are about femininity at Juicy.”

Considering Juicy is already one of the largest contemporary brands — with over 100 freestanding stores worldwide (both company-operated and partnered stores) and large amounts of floor space at Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Harrods, Selfridges and Lane Crawford — it’s no wonder he hit the ground running. Huber’s decision to come to the company in the first place wasn’t a light one.

Before joining Juicy, Huber spent over 16 years at L’Oréal SA, most recently as managing director of major markets, where he oversaw a portfolio of brands including Ralph Lauren Fragrances, Giorgio Armani Beauty, Diesel Fragrances, Lancôme, Shu Uemura and Kiehl’s. When Huber got wind of the president’s position at Juicy, it was a major decision for him on both a business and personal level. At the time, he was living in Paris with his wife and then-eight-month-old daughter, Stella.

“It was a family decision, since we all had to make the move to the U.S.,” Huber explained in an interview in his Empire State Building office here. “If we were going to do that, it had to be something like this. I saw the potential in the brand, and I wanted to take on the challenge of developing it.”

Bringing the colorful, humorous world of “controlled craziness” that is Juicy Couture to new territories worldwide is a major focus for Huber.

In the U.K., he’s brought all operations in-house and just opened an office and showroom on Burton Street in London. In Asia, the brand has a partnership with Lane Crawford, which has already opened 24 stores in the region. Huber said he’s now working with them to open faster — he would like to see somewhere between 45 and 50 stores in China alone. Two Juicy stores in Greece are planned to open in November, five will roll out in Dubai (there are three there already), and he is currently in talks to open stores throughout the rest of the Middle East. In addition, Huber is working on South America, where there is currently no Juicy presence. His plan is to first open in Mexico and then move south into Brazil. In the U.S., Juicy stores are planned for openings this month at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif., the Galleria at Roseville in Roseville, Calif., and The Summit in Birmingham in Alabama.

In total, Huber plans to open about 25 company-run freestanding stores and 18 outlet stores before the end of the year.

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