LONDON — Skechers has cut the ribbon on its new headquarters just north of here, in St. Albans, England.
The 17,500-square-foot building, which replaces Skechers’ former headquarters in the nearby town of Potters Bar, is one of many European openings for the brand this year.
The new facility, about an hour’s commute from London, houses offices and nine product showrooms for the men’s, women’s and children’s ranges. About 50 people will be based there. Skechers has 400 store employees across the U.K. and Ireland.
“I think in the last five to six years we’ve sort of exploded. We are one of the top 10 footwear brands in the region now by turnover. And there will be 50 retail stores by the end of the year in the U.K. and Ireland,” managing director Peter Youell said at a launch event Friday.
Skechers U.K. sales grew by just under 30 percent last year, according to David Weinberg, chief operating officer of Skechers USA.
Skechers is investing heavily in Europe, and has recently expanded its distribution center in Belgium to one million square feet. It is also in the process of redesigning its Austrian and Italian showrooms, which will open later this year.
Skechers opened its U.K. headquarters the day after the landmark Brexit referendum, but Weinberg said the company was not worried about Britain leaving the European Union.
“There are different rules in all the countries in South America and Southeast Asia that we adapt to, so I believe we will do it here,” he said. Skechers trades in more than 160 countries.
“This building is for England. Although we handle the rest of Europe here from an IT and HR perspective, it is built predominantly for England. We have a very big retail presence and a very big wholesale presence so we don’t anticipate that business will do anything but grow.”
Youell said shoe prices may rise depending on the change in the value of the pound, however. “If prices move up a bit, we will still be very, very affordable.” Most ranges such as Sport Active, Women’s and On the Go all retail between 52 pounds and 70 pounds, or $71 to $95.
The company will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, and also plans to open a flagship store in Oxford Street in November. The store will span about 1,800 square feet and will be the first to sell Skechers apparel.
“That will start to show the next potential development of the brand with clothing so we will see how it goes,” Youell said. “We have got to make sure we do it right. We are a shoe brand that is going to move into [apparel] and our stores will help us understand what people are looking for.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by three official Skechers faces: Kelly Brook, TV presenter Charlie Webster and Sugar Ray Leonard, the former professional boxer.