MILAN — Leapfrogging ahead of its slated 2006 Paris arrival, Brooks Brothers is about to enter the U.K. market.

The Retail Brand Alliance-owned retailer will open a 3,200-square-foot space in the prestigious Lion Plaza on Old Broad Street in London at the end of the month. Manlio Massa, Retail Brand Alliance’s European managing director, said the company is also in negotiations to secure a flagship space on Regent Street for a spring 2006 opening.

Brooks Brothers is based on traditional English tailoring and still sources some of its fabrics from the U.K. Although British retailer Marks & Spencer owned the brand from 1988 to 2001, it never really had a presence in the country.

Massa said Brooks’ U.K. entrance came about through a joint venture with a private investor. The investor’s name was not revealed, but Massa said he was a personal friend of RBA president and chief executive officer Claudio Del Vecchio.

John Hind, who has worked with Arcadia, Pepe Jeans London and Debenhams, has been tapped as the company’s U.K. managing director.

The Lion Plaza store will stock the complete men’s clothing collection and offer its made-to-measure service. Fit will be based on Brooks Brothers’ slimmer European model.

The venerable men’s wear clothier made its first foray into Europe when it opened a Milan flagship in 2003 and followed up with a second outlet in Florence. Massa said the company is scouting for a location in Rome. All of Brooks Brothers’ stores are directly owned and operated.

On the wholesale level, Massa said the brand wrapped up its first selling season in Germany and will be in 20 stores in that country by spring 2006. In Italy the brand is currently sold in 120 top specialty retailers, and Massa said wholesale rollouts are expected in Spain and France.

This story first appeared in the October 10, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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