NEW YORK — Intermix is spreading its multidesigner wings.

This story first appeared in the January 24, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The retailer’s first international store, a 2,500-square-foot flagship on Bloor Street in Toronto, will bow in the fall, and a Canadian rollout is planned.

“Why shouldn’t we be in every international city in Canada?” said Khajak Keledjian, chief executive officer of Intermix. “After that, it will be easier to go to Western Europe.”

Intermix will open six to eight stores this year, including a 2,700-square-foot unit in Greenwich, Conn., this spring and a 2,800-square-foot shop in the Meatpacking District here in the fall. Other growth opportunities include men’s-only stores. “Not a day goes by that I’m not asked to do men’s,” Keledjian said.

Intermix did $100 million in sales last year, a strong, double-digit increase over 2009, Keledjian said. “We had a great fourth quarter revenue-wise, but it was questionable in terms of margins,” he admitted. Intermix’s 24 units average $1,500 in sales per square foot, he said.

“We felt the pain of the economy,” said Keledjian. “For the last year and a half, we’ve been in turnaround mode.”

Intermix in October hired Adrienne Lazarus, a former president of AnnTaylor Stores Corp., for the new position of president. “She’s an opportunistic merchant,” Keledjian said. “I’d never run a business the size of the business I’m running. I started the company when I was 19.”

One of Lazarus’ briefs was to get a better understanding of the Intermix customer. Focus groups she held led Keledjian to rethink Intermix’s entire assortment. “We realized that we had to cut back on the number of vendors we carry,” he said. “We cut back 30 percent of our stockkeeping units on average and increased depth by 50 percent. It’s very risky. We profiled our customer after 17 years. Our customer is older. I needed to know how much of our assortment would satisfy women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. We weren’t able to get all of her wallet. Now we’ve got her back into full wardrobing. We’ve done it by localizing, finding things for her lifestyle.”

Intermix’s core customer is in her 30s.

An advertising campaign that will be featured on the Intermix Web site, in stores and on billboards and taxi cabs was created by Orphan, a New York-based creative agency. It features stylized close-ups of models highlighted with bold streaks of color. There’s also a new quarterly look book. “We spent millions rebranding the stores,” Keledjian said. “It was a huge initiative for 24 stores and the Web site. There’s the signage, shopping bags, labels and hangtags.” Intermix’s logo was redesigned with the first four letters in thin line type and the “mix” in bold.

The Intermix founder blamed decreased margins on department stores forcing designers to ship early in the season, only to have the styles languish on the racks. “It gets marked down, and I lose margins,” he said. “I’m not going to be bullied into buying early.” Keledjian said he’s working on doing exclusives with designers and buying collections he believes in. “We collaborated with Sergio Rossi and Cushnie et Ochs. I love Helmut Lang and Rag & Bone, and I like the new Rachel Zoe collection. It’s highly styled, good quality and a great value. The fact that she’s a stylist resonates with us.”

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