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Etro Pushing U.S. Retail Expansion

As a first step, the Milan-based fashion house has opened a new store in Beverly Hills.

MILAN — Etro is expanding its presence in North America.

As a first step, the Milan-based fashion house has opened a new store in Beverly Hills. Located on Rodeo Drive, the 4,500-square-foot space, which carries the brand’s women’s and men’s ready-to-wear collections, along with the accessories and fragrance lines, reflects the Etro family’s passion for art. The store, which is embellished with handmade Venini Murano glass chandeliers, is decorated with a number of artworks. These include two statues and three oil paintings from the Fifties, as well as a number of silverwear pieces, including an equestrian Ascot trophy from 1863.

“Our retail concept is in constant evolution,” said Etro chief executive officer Ippolito Etro, who noted that the company is increasingly upping its investments in its stores. “Our key stores are all strongly influenced by the context. The key elements of our concept, including lacquered wood mixed with metallic details and glass, have to be integrated into the space we occupy, and there must be a correspondence with the outside.”

The opening of the store in Los Angeles is part of the company’s retail expansion in the U.S., which kicked off last June with the relocation of the Miami flagship in Bal Harbour and which includes the opening of new units in Atlanta in 2014 and in Houston in 2015. Etro also counts two doors in New York City, in SoHo and on Madison Avenue. The latter was completely refurbished in 2012. There is also a boutique in Manhasset, N.Y.

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Etro said the company is also looking for locations in Chicago, Dallas and Seattle, aiming to open stores in those cities in 2015. Currently, the U.S. accounts for 18 percent of the company’s sales, which in 2012 totaled 320 million euros, or $422.4 million at average exchange.

The fashion house is also developing strong synergies with department stores, including Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, where Etro generally posted a 22 percent increase in sales in 2012 compared with the previous year. Etro said the same growth percentage was registered in the company’s flagships across the U.S.

In addition, the company is registering strong sales on online multibrand stores, such as saks.com, neimanmarcus.com, net-a-porter.com and mytheresa.com. Last January, the company launched its directly operated e-commerce site, currently available for the European market only. “The goal is to open our first online store in the U.S. in the first semester of 2014,” said Etro. “It’s an extremely important tool because American customers use the online store not only to shop but also to get information on products they buy in the boutiques.”

In line with the company’s international sales trend, women’s wear, which globally accounts for 45 percent of Etro’s total business, holds the lion’s share of the brand’s sales in the U.S. Bestsellers include colorful printed jersey dresses and printed knitwear.

According to Etro, due to the general evolution of men’s taste for more colorful and less formal pieces, men’s wear is growing in the U.S., where blazers and printed shirts are among the top sellers, along with Etro’s signature scarves, which account for 7 percent of the company’s sales across the world.

“I think the fact that we produce everything in Italy using Italian yarns and fabrics is definitely a key element of our success on the American market,” said Etro, who said that the company is performing very well in Japan, where it has 55 points of sale, along with a flagship in Tokyo’s luxury Ginza district that has tripled its sales volumes in the last three years.

In the second half of 2012, Etro opened an office in China that operates 12 flagships across the country, including two units in Beijing and two in Shanghai. Eleven additional stores will be opened in 2014.

However, “Etro is one of the companies still very active on the European market, where we generate 48 percent of our revenues,” explained Etro. “While Italy, Greece and Spain are suffering, the rest of Europe is holding up.” In Europe, Etro operates 16 flagships, including units in Milan, Paris, London, Barcelona, Munich and Vienna.