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G-Star Launching Amsterdam Flagship

Denim maker to open first company-owned unit.

Dutch denim maker G-Star opened its first company-owned store in its hometown of Amsterdam on Saturday. The 5,800-square-foot store is the brand’s largest flagship.

The store, located on the prime shopping corner of P.C. Hooftstraat and Hobbemastraat, encompasses five levels and will showcase the full assortment of men’s and women’s offerings, including limited edition pieces by industrial designer Marc Newson and the upscale NY Raw range.

“We decided to open our first company-owned store here because we didn’t have a presence in Amsterdam, which was a strange anomaly as it is our home base,” said Shubhankar Ray, global brand director at G-Star. “A very good building became available on the street, which provided a good opportunity.”

P.C. Hooftstraat is the most prestigious retail corridor in the city, with tenants such as Chanel, Gucci, Hugo Boss and Cartier.

With the exception of the new flagship, all of G-star’s 170 stores around the world, including 12 in the U.S., are operated under franchise agreements with local partners. Ray said there are no plans for more company-owned stores.

“We like the franchise model because our expertise is not in retail,” Ray said. “Our expertise is in brand development and design, so we think it makes sense to partner with local retailers. They know the customer and the dynamics of the city. Amsterdam is a different ball game because we are based here.”

In 2008, G-Star posted total company sales of about 750 million euros, or $1.02 billion at current exchange. Ray expects 2009 sales to be flat with last year. Men’s wear comprises about 65 percent of sales and women’s wear is 35 percent.

G-Star is privately owned by founder Jos van Tilburg along with a group of other investors.