Agent Provocateur is planning big when it comes to its own retail.
This story first appeared in the June 21, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
With a mix of 62 freestanding boutiques and franchises worldwide, the purveyor of naughty lingerie with a British twist is planning a retail portfolio of 100 points of sale by the end of 2013, said Garry Hogarth, chief executive officer.
“We are planning another 12 stores by the end of 2012 and 20 to 25 additional units in 2013,” said Hogarth. “The majority will be ours but there will be a few franchises such as Kiev, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and we’re looking at Toronto, Montreal, Milan, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. We just opened Madrid, Vancouver, Rome and Coral Gables, Fla., this year.”
Hogarth added that the company, whose owners include private equity giant 3i as well as himself and creative director Sarah Shotton, is looking to Asia, where it is headquartered in Hong Kong with plans to expand to Macau and Shanghai in 2013.
“We hope to do a fashion show in Shanghai at the end of this year.…Agent Provocateur has a strong presence with Russian and Chinese consumers, especially Chinese tourists who vacation in Dubai, where we have two shops. And we plan to launch a Chinese language [e-commerce site]. We already have Korean and Russian language sites,” explained Hogarth.
Having said that, “the U.S. has now become our biggest market,” he said.
Business is apparently bustling for Agent Provocateur, which generated year-to-date sales in March of 32 million British pounds, or $50.3 million at current exchange, compared with 25 million British pounds a year ago. The business has been bolstered by product expansions, which include sunglasses by Linda Farrow and bed linens by Christie. There were also six fragrances, including L’Agent, introduced in 2011 and three Eau Provocateur scents this year, as well as sheer hosiery. The company plans to launch a fourth fragrance with a “new face” and a major advertising campaign in July. The new scent will be in stores in October. Bath and body products are also best-selling items, such as a Silk Stockings leg cream that gives legs a healthy, sexy sheen, and body and bath products that contain exotic ingredients like “horny goat weed with a touch of Viagra.”
“Apparently, it drives men crazy,” quipped Shotton, who was in town Tuesday with Hogarth for an “intimate” cocktail party for Agent Provocateur hosted by fashion stylist Jackie Astier and Princess Khaliya Aga Khan.
Shotton, who was appointed creative director in March 2010, oversees a number of areas at the company including maintaining and evolving the brand’s image and philosophy. She began work as an apprentice at Agent Provocateur in 1999, under the aegis of founders Joe Corre and Serena Rees.
She said she enjoys celebrating the “female form. Every new shape is developed to flatter, entice and empower women.”
That empowerment includes the reintroduction of the brand’s Classics range, which touts a tag line saying, “Sexy Never Takes a Day Off.” The first of three videos titled “The Chase” kicked off the campaign in mid-April. It centers on a young woman wearing a dress and sweater who reveals her sexy black knickers and bra as she’s chasing down a thug who has robbed an elderly lady of her handbag.
Regarding the upcoming ad campaign for fall, Shotton would only describe it as “basically Goth romantic, inspired by Dracula and films like ‘Secret Ceremony’ with Elizabeth Taylor….Colors include lilac purples with black, berry reds, bright reds and electric blue,” said Shotton.
She would not divulge who the celebrity face for the campaign will be, but noted, “She’s incredibly sexy.”