Brazil’s Arezzo will open four to six stores in the U.S. this year as it steps up its expansion in the country, part of a broader international push, said investor relations director Aline Ferreira.
“We don’t give formal guidance but we are thinking about four to six stores,” she told WWD. “We just opened in Las Vegas and are looking at Miami and New York.”
Arezzo already operates six stores in the U.S., mainly for its Schutz and Alexandre Birman labels, which retail at $160 to $180 and $500 and $600, respectively in its Los Angeles, New York and Miami locations, according to Ferreira. She added the firm’s Arezzo brand is currently unavailable in the market but might debut in future.
The publicly traded firm — which also operates the Anacapri, Fiever and Owme footwear labels – sources all of its products in Brazil, gaining lead times and managing to supply “a high quality product in the level of a Stuart Weitzman but at a great price,” Ferreira claimed.
Fast-growing Arezzo — which analysts predict could double its market capitalization to 9 billion reals, or $2.4 billion at current exchange — will also invest 40 million to 50 million reals to grow online sales (amid other technological and logistic revamps), both via Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom in the U.S. but also in Brazil and Europe, where its brands are carried at Harrods and in Spain’s El Corte Ingles.
In Brazil, where retail sales are strengthening on the back of new President Bolsonaro’s market-friendly policies, the firm plans to roll out 55 to 60 stores (mostly franchises) in 2019, in line with last year, and grow the top line 15 percent to 20 percent, according to Ferreira.
Brazilian analysts see a bright future for Arezzo, with Bradesco BBI analyst Richard Cathcard predicting Schutz can do well in the U.S., sharply boosting the company’s revenues and share price and helping it achieve a $2.4 billion valuation.
As retail sales pick up and interest rates decline, a slew of Brazilian department stores are rushing to sell or refinance debt at lower interest rates to cut expansion costs. Since the start of the year, Lojas Americanas and Guararapes (owner of the Riachuelo fashion chain) have raised $275 million and $160 million, respectively, by selling bonds to local and international investors. They follow on the coattails of Restoque, which also garnered $190 million in the debt markets last year.
But Arezzo has no such plans, at least not currently, Ferreira said, as its $100 million cash trove is enough to fund near-term expansion.
“Our fashion business generates a lot of cash and we operate mainly through franchises in Brazil so we don’t have high capital expenditures, except for our U.S. stores [which it will open on its own],” she said. “But they are still a small number.”