NEW YORK — Claudie Pierlot in May will launch at Bloomingdale’s in SoHo and the 59th Street flagship — a year ahead of schedule.
This story first appeared in the March 25, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Frederic Biousse, chief executive officer of Groupe SMCP in France and ceo of SMCP USA, which operates the brand, said the reason is the strong performance at Bloomingdale’s of sister brands Sandro and Maje. “All of a sudden, [Bloomingdale’s] offered us the space,” he said. “They are positively surprised by the performance of Sandro and Maje. We are extremely reactive on opportunities.”
The brand is exciting interest in other quarters as well. “Harvey Nichols has asked us if they can open Claudie Pierlot in London,” Biousse said.
Claudie Pierlot, which offers chic yet affordable designs for feminine young women, is part of Groupe SMCP, which is 51 percent owned by L Capital, the private equity arm of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
“If it goes well in the first month, we’ll look for a retail store for Claudie Pierlot in New York and propose the brand to other department stores,” Biousse said, noting that Claudie Pierlot is more classic than the fashion-oriented Sandro and Maje.
Claudie Pierlot’s U.S. expansion strategy will mirror that of Sandro and Maje. SMCP uses department store real estate staffed by its own employees to gain exposure for its brands, along with special events such as barber shops for men and makeup-instruction sessions for women.
“We try to be different,” Biousse said. “We do the necessary advertising in fashion magazines, but we also like to advertise on phone booths, taxi cabs and buses. Department stores immediately bring us traffic and give us immediate credibility. We play the game with them, and design exclusive things for them.”
Sandro and Maje helped usher in a wave of European labels at retailers such as Bloomingdale’s. “Brands from outside the U.S. is where I find newness,” Frank Doroff, vice chairman and general merchandise manager of ready-to-wear and bloomingdales.com, said in 2011 when Sandro launched. “I’m working to get more European brands into more locations.”
Sandro is among the top five resources at Bloomingdale’s, according to Biousse. “In Europe, we’re the first brand in all department stores,” he said. Sandro does sales of $2 million to $3 million in 1,000 square feet at Bloomingdale’s, Biousse said. Freestanding stores with 1,000 square feet do $2.5 million in the first year and $3.5 million in the second. Smaller stores are even more productive, ringing up $800,000 to $1 million in 350 square feet to 400 square feet. Biousse said sales results indicate that “people understand the brands.”
Sandro on Thursday will unveil a 1,200-square-foot store at 150 Spring Street here. A subsequent Columbus Avenue unit will be its fifth Manhattan location. Stores are opening in Greenwich, Conn., Filmore Street in San Francisco and Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. The brand is looking for a flagship near Mercer Street in Manhattan and units in the Flatiron District and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sandro is closing in on a site in Los Angeles and two units in Miami. In April, Sandro will open shops-in-shop at Nordstrom and Hudson’s Bay as part of its push into department stores.