PARIS — It’s prescient that Jimmy Choo’s first boutique here has a Forties boudoir vibe.
Robert Bensoussan, chief executive officer of the luxury footwear and accessories firm, disclosed that lingerie is among brand extensions in the cards for Choo. Beauty products and eyewear are also considered “midterm” development projects for the fast-growing firm.
“[Jimmy Choo] is perceived not as a shoe brand, but more like a sexy brand,” Bensoussan said. “It’s our moment. We’re on a roll. We still have a long way to grow.”
And the 500-square-foot outpost here, boasting 14 feet of frontage on Avenue Montaigne, is the latest volley in Choo’s retail rollout, bringing to 31 the number of its freestanding stores worldwide.
Like other Choo units, the Avenue Montaigne store reflects president Tamara Yeardye Mellon’s desire for a feminine, luxurious and intimate atmosphere. Design elements include blush-toned satin walls, pearlized lacquer shelves and beige leather sofas. Sparkle comes from crystal chandeliers, beveled mirrors and polished chrome hardware.
The store here, the smallest in the company’s network, is expected to generate sales of 2 million euros, or $2.3 million at current exchange, in its first year. “If this works, very quickly we will open a second and possibly a third store in Paris,” Bensoussan said.
At present, Choo wholesales to only a handful of French stores, and Bensoussan expects the Paris boutique will attract mostly an international clientele. The company is eyeing couture week in January for an opening event.
To date, Bensoussan has concentrated on Choo’s key markets, the U.S. and the U.K. “Now it’s time for us to go east, which is Asia and Europe,” he said.
A Milan boutique, which opened a year and a half ago, was its first major outpost in Continental Europe. A 1,700-square-foot flagship in Madrid’s prestigious Gran Via district, which opened last week in the former location of Louis Vuitton, underscores Jimmy Choo’s ambitions to have 50 stores by 2008. While declining to give details, Bensoussan hinted that major distribution deals are in the works for Japan and India.
Boutiques in Washington, D.C., and Bangkok are slated to open before the end of the year, and there are plans for stores in 2006 in San Francisco; Boston; Hawaii; Qatar; Jakarta, Indonesia, and Abu Dhabi, and second locations in Las Vegas and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Purchased by European private equity firm Hicks Muse a year ago, Jimmy Choo is on track to post a 35 percent increase in sales and a 50 percent increase in operating profits in 2005, Bensoussan said. Sales this year should total 50 million British pounds, or $86.7 million at current exchange. Handbags, introduced in 2003, already represent more than 15 percent of sales, he noted.