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NEW YORK — Slow and steady, not to mention well thought out, seems to be the motto at Intermix.
This story first appeared in the August 15, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
That’s according to Khajak Keledjian, cofounder and chief executive officer at the specialty chain.
What he means is that the management team, which includes his brother and cofounder Haro, is thinking through each step and making sure the next strategic moves they make are really just that, rather than expanding full-speed ahead for the sake of growth.
“It’s not easy to expand and get stronger. If our content is not good, then we will not be exciting to our customers.…Our buying is more localized to our customers in each specific market. That’s what has given us our success,” Keledjian said.
The retail strategy that’s working is opening one flagship around 5,000 square feet in a location, and then adding additional units in smaller footprints around 2,500 square feet nearby — but not so nearby that they cannibalize the existing flagship.
Keledjian was adamant about one key criteria that has to be met before new surrounding sites are opened: “We want the stores to do well before opening more sites in the same locale. We make sure the store is profitable and there’s more full-price selling than markdowns, and we watch delivery flow.”
While retail expansion here and overseas are definitely priorities, other potential initiatives to grow the company include Intermix’s own private label and a foray into the men’s category. While a faster turn might not be an essential top priority, better gross margins are.
All that focus on detail makes for a good pitch to potential investors.
The 19-year-old chain, which market sources speculated had an annual volume of between $125 million and $150 million in 2011, recently hired The Sage Group to help it raise capital for its expansion plans.
That idea came about when potential investors stepped up and inquired about the possibility of taking a stake in the company.
According to Keledjian, he’s had strategic and financial investors in the U.S. expressing interest, as well as a few from overseas.
“The company is financially strong. We have a lot of money in our checkbook,” the ceo said, noting that any investor the company takes onboard will have to bring something additional to the table than just more money.
“Ideally it could be someone who already has a bigger platform, whether domestic in the U.S. or internationally based,” he said. The company is open to either an investor with retail know-how to expand its store base or a manufacturer who can perhaps help it expand into the private label arena.
While the idea of investors helping one grow could be a heady thought for some with initial public offerings on their mind, Keledjian is trying not to get too enthused about who their next partner might be.
“If it’s not the right partner, we’re not interested in doing anything because we don’t have to,” he emphasized, noting that right now his priorities includes the relaunching of the company’s Web site and the opening of more stores.
Slated for an opening on Aug. 30 is a Georgetown store that is essentially an expansion of an existing business, but in a relocated site. Also on the horizon is a new store on the Bowery here slated to open in spring 2013, representing the seventh Intermix store in Manhattan. As for more Toronto stores, Keledjian said the company is still learning about logistical issues, such as currency translations, duties and importation of goods.
The specialty chain works with 220 brands, although not all are necessarily represented in each store. Among some of the new vendors are Mason, Phillip Lim, Alexander McQueen and Ohne Titel. Key vendors for the chain include Rag & Bone, A.L.C. by Andrea Lieberman, Helmut Lang, Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo, Iro and Alaïa.