Brooks Brothers will open two additional Black Fleece stores, including the first freestanding international unit, this fall.

This story first appeared in the June 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In the U.S., a 1,600-square-foot store is slated to open at 2223 Fillmore Street in San Francisco, in the former Simon Pearce location, by September. In addition, the company will open a 925-square-foot boutique at the Omotesando Hills mall in Tokyo at the end of August. Black Fleece, which is designed by Thom Browne, opened its first freestanding store in New York’s Greenwich Village in January.

In addition, the company has inked a deal to open up to 40 stores in Mexico through a partnership with Grupo Axo.

“The Black Fleece store on Bleecker Street is doing very well,” said Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and chief executive officer of Brooks, who said the above-plan performance, coupled with finding the right location in San Francisco, prompted the expansion. The line is also performing strongly in Japan, he said, and “we realized we needed to put a flagship there.”

Del Vecchio said Black Fleece customers have responded to having their own separate location, noting, “I’m not sure those customers are comfortable coming to Madison Avenue.”

In Mexico, the company will open its first stores in that country starting in September. The potential is for up to 40 locations by 2015. The licensing deal is for six years and calls for two stores to open in the second half of this year — Guadalajara (Andares) in September followed by Mexico City (Antara Polanco) in October — and four additional units in 2010. Five to 10 more locations are under consideration for 2011.

Grupo Axo operates more than 651 points of sales for brands including Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and Thomas Pink in Mexico.

Closer to home, Del Vecchio said Brooks will open a 4,000-square-foot store in Rockefeller Center at 1270 Sixth Avenue at 51st Street by the end of August. Although significantly smaller than most of its other units, he said all of the company’s product categories will be carried there. “It’ll be a great test to see if we can do more stores of that size. In any downtown area these days, it’s very hard to find large spaces,” he said.

Lastly, the company will relocate and enlarge its store at the Biltmore in Phoenix this week; will open its second store in Canada, an 18,000-square-foot flagship in Toronto around Labor Day, and a freestanding country club unit in the Bravern, an upscale mall under construction in Seattle. The latter will mark the first store of this concept that is not located in a resort area, Del Vecchio said.

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