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DALLAS — Aftershock London unveiled its first U.S. store Friday with a goal of opening 15 to 20 units in major cities over the next four years.
“I feel confident we can find a place here,” said Imran Sheikh, U.S. managing director and a 50-percent partner in the American expansion. “We plan to launch e-commerce within two weeks of opening the store.”
Owned and operated by Hiro and Radhika Harjani, the 20-year-old London company known for party frocks also plans to add 20 to 25 stores in the Middle East via a deal with The Apparel Group and has signed Al Hokair Group to roll the brand out in central Asia, Sheikh noted. Aftershock currently owns about 10 stores and has about 35 franchisees, he added.
“Hiro loves the U.S. and has been looking to open here for a long time,” said Sheikh, whose background is in investment and real estate.
Aftershock London marries the lavish embellishment of the Harjanis’ native India with Western style, specializing in shimmering cocktail and formal attire rounded out with contemporary day dresses, sportswear, knitwear and a little bridal. The company manufactures in India, Indonesia and China, and most dresses range from $140 to $650 with accessories and shoes starting at $75.
“We’re trying to go after a multigenerational approach to high school and college girls and also their mothers with slightly more sophisticated designs,” Sheikh noted. “It’s value driven. It’s bang for your buck.”
Initially he considered introducing the brand in New York or California.
“But when we looked at occupancy costs as a percent of sales, surprisingly Dallas and Houston both came out ahead,” Sheikh said. “The Texas economy is something like 16th in the world, and it’s tax friendly to business. It’s somewhere we can start without pressures like $350,000 rent in New York.”
Decorated in soft neutral hues of beige, gold-tinged mushroom and cream, the 1,850-square foot store sits below the new University Park Library at the Plaza at Preston Center, an open-air complex that also houses Tootsies, Calypso and about 40 shops, eateries and services.
“It’s more than just a business,” said Sheikh, who is relocating here with his wife and two-year-old twins. “It’s something that drives us as a family.”
Aftershock, which wholesales to retailers including House of Fraser, sold to U.S. stores from 2004 to 2008, Sheikh noted.