By  on August 17, 2010

Marimekko, a major Finnish design house founded in 1951, is out to strengthen its position in the U.S.

The company has formed a new subsidiary that will manage and develop U.S. operations in collaboration with C2 Group, a brand management firm. C2 Group, which was founded in 2007, is headed by Lynn Shanahan, chief executive officer; Karen Martin, creative director, and Allison Niles, director of product development and marketing.

All three previously worked together at Tommy Hilfiger. Shanahan had been group president of U.S. wholesale and licensing at Hilfiger until 2005. Martin was senior vice president of women’s design, and Niles was senior vice president of merchandising, design and production.

“There’s never been a full management team here to build the brand,” said Shanahan.

Marimekko will open a showroom in New York at 1211 Avenue of the Americas on Sept. 7, with the objective of expanding its distribution through high-end department and specialty stores, as well as increasing the number of Marimekko stores. Currently, the firm has three concept stores in New York, Miami and Cambridge, Mass.

In mid-October, a 1,775-square-foot Marimekko shop-in-shop will open within Crate & Barrel’s SoHo store in New York. The two firms also are exploring further opportunities for expansion, including additional U.S. shop-in-shops and e-commerce.

Marimekko’s products range from clothing, bags, jewelry and other accessories to furnishings fabrics and tableware. Last year, Marimekko’s net sales were $93 million, with international accounting for 27.3 percent. The U.S., which is a key market for the firm, is one of roughly 40 countries where the collection is sold.

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