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Jimmy Choo Expanding in Hong Kong

Jimmy Choo said Tuesday it formed a joint venture with Bluebell Far East to to own and operate Choo stores in Hong Kong.

LONDON — Jimmy Choo said Tuesday it formed a joint venture with Bluebell Far East Limited to own and operate Choo stores in Hong Kong.

This story first appeared in the April 8, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In October, the brand will open a 1,000-square-foot flagship on the ground floor of The Landmark in the Central district. The new Hong Kong unit will replace Choo’s smaller one, which has been in the same shopping complex since 2004.

Two additional Hong Kong locations have recently opened under the partnership: A 1,100-square-foot store at Elements in Kowloon, and a 450-square-foot store at Hong Kong International Airport. All of the new stores carry the full range of Choo accessories and eyewear.

The Jimmy Choo units in Hong Kong had been operated under a distribution agreement with Bluebell. “This strategic partnership will allow us to better serve our dedicated clientele,” in Hong Kong, chief executive officer Joshua Schulman said.

Choo already has a retail joint venture with Bluebell in Japan. The brand also has expansion plans in the Middle East with partners DFS. A Jimmy Choo unit opened last month at Galleria International airport in Abu Dhabi, while one at Jeddah’s Stars Avenue will launch this year.

On the home front, the company is reporting a robust business in the U.K., its local market. Sales at Harrods are 35 percent ahead of last year, and there is a strong demand from the tourist market, Schulman said.

He added that Choo customers are either tapping into the very high end of the pyramid, snapping up the $1,395 Claudia embroidered stiletto, or into entry-level price points — and grabbing espadrilles priced at $375.

“The customer is definitely voting for fashion, and they want something different from what they already have in their closets,” Schulman said. He said some Choo customers may even be trading down, but they’re still demanding fashion. “They are not buying replacement basics,” he added.

In other developments, the brand will receive Nordstrom’s 2009 Partners in Excellence Award next month. The award is given to the top vendors in the store in terms of profits and sales, and whose organizations exemplify a spirit of partnership.

Previous recipients include Burberry, Juicy Couture and Tory Burch. The award will be presented on May 19 at Nordstrom’s annual meeting of the board in Seattle.