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British Chain Accessorize Arrives in U.S.

Accessorize, the U.K.-based chain, will open two stores in New York.

Accessorize, the U.K.-based chain, is dipping a big toe in U.S. waters with the openings in New York of a 400-square-foot store at 329 Bleecker Street on Oct. 28 and a 500-square-foot unit at 1 Union Square West on Nov. 18. With an ambitious plan, the company will take the plunge and aims to open 100 units in the U.S. by 2015.

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In addition to the store openings, the retailer, which is a division of the multimillion-dollar Monsoon retail group, is working to launch a U.S. transactional Web site.

“We’re coming to the U.S. 27 years after we started,” said founder and chairman Peter Simon. “We now have 750 stores. The Accessorize business started with two counters in a Monsoon store in Covent Garden, selling scarves and cummerbunds.”

The product range has grown exponentially since then, and now includes statement jewelry, bridal jewelry, watches, handbags, purses, wallets, shoes, hats, gloves, lingerie and more. Accessorize introduces 1,500 new products each season; they are well-priced and globally sourced. A statement necklace made of diamanté and metal discs is 20 pounds, or $32; an all-over sparkle clutch is 30 pounds, or $47, and a bouclé Baker Boy cap is 19 pounds, or $30. All conversions were made at current exchange.

Simon said stores do an average of $1,500 a square foot.

“I’ve been through two recessions and accessories are right for recessions or difficult times when people don’t buy too many clothes,” said Simon, who has been living on and off in the U.S. for three years, preparing for the expansion. “I’ve been looking and watching,” he said. “I cannot see anything as good. A lot of clothes shops that sell accessories are competitors. But we don’t have a direct competitor in the U.S., as we don’t in Europe. Claire’s is the teen market. Our customer is 18 to 35 years old. We do the Angels range [of accessories for girls].”

The brand is known for advertising campaigns featuring A-list models and celebrities. Lily Aldridge is fronting the autumn-winter 2010-2011 season. Past faces have included Lily Cole, Bar Refaeli, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld and Claudia Schiffer. In the U.S., advertising will be limited to in-store signage, at least until Accessorize gets a critical mass of stores up and running. “Normally we do some local marketing,” Simon said. “The customer responds to our amazing windows and colorful shop. We’ve opened in many diverse countries without being known and do incredibly well.”

The U.S. operation is being run by George Simon, 27, the founder’s son, who is managing director of Accessorize.

The retailer designs a unique product for each market in which it launches. The Union Jack clutch is still popular. “We did a Russian stripe clutch when we opened in Russia,” Peter Simon said. “We’re doing stars and stripes for America.”