PARIS — After a few years restructuring, Cacharel, the French fashion house known for its spirited, contemporary sportswear, is stepping on the accelerator.
The company inaugurated a new concept store in the busy Saint-Germain shopping district here on Tuesday, and hopes to further kick-start growth by making its main fashion line more sophisticated while introducing in France a less-expensive line called Baby Jane, which already has been rolled out in Asia.
Meanwhile, its shoe and accessories business has been brought in-house to more tightly control and energize the high-margin segment.
“Last year we decided to redefine our codes and move the house forward,” explained Chrystel Abadie Truchet, Cacharel’s managing director, during a tour of the new 10,000-square-foot store.
Designed by French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the store is pared-down and airy, with curvy red chairs and white and red display cases. It replaces a previous Cacharel shop in the same location.
Truchet said the unit, down the street from Yves Saint Laurent and near pastry shop Pierre Hermé, should generate first-year sales of $3.2 million to $3.9 million. (All figures have been converted from euros at the current exchange rate.)
She explained Wilmotte altered the store’s facade to make room for larger display windows and knocked down walls inside to create a breezier atmosphere.
On the first level are the main runway line and accessories, while upstairs are children’s wear, home items and Baby Jane. Truchet said the company is “studying” how to develop the latter, which is geared to the 17- to 22-year-old age bracket.
“In Asia the line is never mixed with the first line, and has its own corners or shops. We are working on a plan to introduce it in a similar manner in Europe.”
While Cacharel’s main collection retails from $180 for a cotton top to $309 for a cotton skirt, a Baby Jane cotton dress sells for $187 and a T-shirt for $60. “It’s about 50 percent less expensive than the main line,” said Truchet.
The shop also reflects a new Cacharel logo, which was developed by artistic director Thomas Lenthal, who is consulting for the house on its visual identity. Truchet said the reworked logo, with its rounded script, takes the company back to its heritage in the late Sixties, when Jean Bousquet founded the brand and made it synonymous with Liberty print shirts.
Truchet said Cacharel has made efforts to “position the main collection on a more sophisticated, fashion level” and added that designers Inacio Ribeiro and Suzanne Clements introduced more detailing and more luxurious fabrics into the spring collection.
So far, the changes augur well. Truchet said the house would break even this year after a couple of years in the red due to boutique closures and a general rebattening of the hatches. She said revenues for Cacharel’s fiscal year, which ends in October, should tally about $46.3 million, up from $41 million last year.
To build momentum, she said the brand would open a second store in Paris, in September, in a new retail development on Rue Saint-Honoré, which also is expected to welcome the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Brooks Bros., Anne Fontaine and Hugo Boss.
Ramping up customer service is another priority, and the house has hired Delphine Georget, formerly the director of the Kirna Zabête and Dior boutiques in New York, to head Cacharel’s existing three wholly owned shops, in Paris, Milan and Avignon, France.
“One of our other priorities is to build business in America,” said Truchet, who noted that Marie Fages, formerly commercial director at Jean Paul Gaultier, has been hired as director of international development.