The Los Angeles specialty retailer, owned by Evolution Media Capital, is set to open five stores to be located in Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Zurich and Bern in the fall with the help of operating partners. The Switzerland stores represent the brand’s first entry into the European market.
It’s not the first time the brand’s flirted with international, or simply more ambitious growth plans. Former chief executive officer Paul Blum told WWD in 2014 the company had plans to open 10 lifestyle center formats domestically and overseas across a five- to seven-year period. The business then recalibrated, shuttering the Fred Segal Santa Monica location and a store in Japan, in addition to the sell off of the building housing the original Melrose Avenue location. It would appear new management led by ceo Allison Samek, who joined in 2016, is picking back up on the growth plans.
“We’ve been working on it [international] for a few years, identifying the right partners and then working with those partners to develop the concepts,” said president John Frierson in response to why the timing was right to open so many new doors. “We’re excited that we’re able to announce all this happening this season and then we’ll announce more for next season.”
The store openings, timed throughout September, reflect three retail formats executives will roll out as the brand scales over the next five years with the goal of opening some 20 doors.
In Switzerland, where Fred Segal is to open three locations — two in Zurich and one in Bern — via a shops-in-shop partnership with Swiss department store Globus. Brands featured there are set to include J.W. Anderson, Tibi, Apiece Apart and Helmut Lang.
The store in Kuala Lumpur, totaling 3,200 square feet, is a mall store with a café within the Malaysian shopping center 1 Utama. Brands there will include a mix of established labels such as Ksubi and Madeworn in addition to local lines Thavia and Kulet.
And finally, Taipei is to represent the flagship concept Frierson compared to the Sunset Boulevard store. The location, which will boast a food concept, will total more than 7,000 square feet across two floors and will include Marni, Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, Alessandra Rich and Ader Error.
“We really looked to the local operating partner to give us feedback on what works in their marketplace and then bought specifically for that demographic,” Samek said of the process selecting what brands to merchandise each store with.
“It’s always with a Fred Segal perspective and they’re excited to bring our laid-back, luxe California style to these markets,” Frierson added. “I think our brand is the strongest brand in L.A. I think that it’s even surprised us at how strong it is so there is a lot of recognition there, but even beyond the recognition of the brand, I think it’s the lens that we put on the experience, and the merchandising happens to be something that everyone’s really excited about.”
The company said the Sunset store is tracking 20 percent over projections year to date.
“It is doing well, really well,” Samek said. “We had modest expectations because this is a new area on the [Sunset] strip for retail and it’s been beating all of our expectations so we’re thrilled with the performance of the store. We’ve had a waitlist for anyone who wants to come in and take space or do events or activations. So for us it’s all about finding the right person or the right company or brand to do something in the store who is going to bring the most to our customer at the right time. So we’re focusing on that right now.”
The company also has plans to open a second door domestically in the spring in Malibu on Cross Creek Road.
“It’s another iconic location,” Frierson said. “We think Sunset’s iconic and this is an iconic corner store right in Malibu.”
As for the rest of the U.S., Samek said the focus will be to continue driving traffic to Sunset and eventually Malibu as it relates to the doors’ pop-up shops and other events.
“We are always looking at strategic opportunities in the U.S., but I can’t comment further on anything domestically right now,” she said.