Harmont & Blaine Opens 100th Store, Eyes IPO

Investing in retailing around the world and seeking a partner that will help triple its sales in three years are other top priorities for the Italian company.

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Men'sWeek issue 09/06/2012

MILAN — Investing in retailing around the world and seeking a partner that will help triple its sales in three years and help it go public are top priorities for Italian company Harmont & Blaine SpA, which opened its 100th boutique here this week.

This story first appeared in the September 6, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The store is located on central Corso Matteotti, a street that is home to brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch and which is quickly developing as a trendy shopping venue, with Versace Collection and Just Cavalli units slated to open soon.

The Harmont & Blaine store covers three floors and 5,680 square feet and carries the men’s, women’s, children’s, footwear and accessories collections. Men’s wear is the core business of the label, which is recognizable for its trademark dachshund logo, and its informal elegance and stylish preppy looks.

Chief executive officer Domenico Menniti said he believed in investing in such a venture and in Milan “even in the most difficult moment of the country’s economic history because we don’t want to let foreign sportswear brands take control of the main capital in international fashion.” The company also plans to open a 10,800-square-foot showroom in the trendy Via Tortona area of the city in November.

The store features Mediterranean design and colors, with a white and azure color palette, and is peppered with vintage armchairs and tables, juxtaposed with the new white wood shelves. Menniti described it as showing touches of “your grandmother’s house.”

The company’s recent retail expansion includes openings in Casablanca; Macau; Hong Kong; Santa Fe and Villahermosa, Mexico; Malta; at the Dubai Mall and the Mall of Emirates, and at the airports in Milan Linate and Naples. Coming up next are boutiques in Russia’s Ekaterinburg, Rostov on Don and Krasnodar, and Panama. Menniti said there are also plans to expand in the U.K. and France in the first half of next year, and in the U.S. — where there are already two stores, in Miami and Southampton, N.Y. — in the second half, followed by South America in 2014. “We are committed to being an international company, and not merely focused on exports,” he said.

In the U.S., plans call for stores in New York and Los Angeles as well as the opening of an American subsidiary. “There is no alternative, we must understand and meet local needs with local companies,” he said. Over the past four years, exports rose to account for 50 percent of sales, up from 20 percent.

In the first half, Harmont & Blaine reported sales of 28.4 million euros, or $36.6 million at average exchange, up 10 percent compared with the same period last year. It expects to close the year with revenues of around 67 million euros, or $84.3 million at current exchange. The private, family-run company is looking for a partner in Asia and South America as Menniti said he would like the group to reach sales of around 200 million euros, or $251.8 million, by 2015 or 2016. “The goal is to go public once we’ve reached that size,” he added.

Harmont & Blaine is based in Caivano, on the outskirts of Naples. Fifty of the 100 stores are in Italy and the brand is carried in more than 600 points of sale around the world.