International brands are grabbing real estate opportunities created by the travails of the U.S. retail industry, which has been closing stores at a rate unseen since the Great Recession.
Marc Cain GmbH, a Bodelshausen, Germany-based company, last week unveiled a store at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., and plans to open units at King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pa., and The Westchester in White Plains, N.Y.
While Marc Cain is virtually unknown in the U.S., the group operates 211 stores in 34 countries and 291 shops-in-shop and in 2016 posted logged sales of 264 million euros, or $288 million at current exchange.
“There was a distributor in the U.S., but Marc Cain decided to close the wholesale business and concentrate on retail,” said managing director Stephen Belfer. “We’ll use it as a window to show the product properly. We hope to open up the wholesale business later.”
Marc Cain in October 2014 entered Canada. The brand had been working with a Canadian distributor for 30 years, but wanted to control its own destiny. “They had a nice wholesale business with about 80 to 100 doors,” Belfer said. “They decided to take it away and open a sister company. They continued with the wholesale business themselves and grew it by tremendous numbers.”
Marc Cain’s first company-owned store in 2015 bowed in Montreal. There are now nine Canadian locations, with three more opening by year’s end, including a unit at Toronto’s Eaton Centre.
Belfer wants to use the Canadian strategy in the U.S. market. “We hope the U.S. will grow at a similar pace,” he said. “Opening 12 stores in Canada in three years, is a pretty good pace. Starting next year, we’ll continue at the same rate and see the potential. I really believe in the potential in the U.S. When we start rolling out stores along the East Coast and going to Chicago and California, we’ll have tremendous amount of stores.”
Belfer said e-commerce will bow in the U.S. and Canada within the year.
Stores average 2,000 square feet, Belfer said, adding that the brand needs the space to display the main collection, essentials and sport, as well as the handbags, shoes and accessories, which Marc Cain launched last year.
Marc Cain’s fashion isn’t for the faint of heart. While the brand offers classic styles, it specializes in eye-catching prints and body-conscious fits such as waist-nipping blazers, dresses in jacquard, double-layered silk and macramé lace. Leopard and cheetah are favorite patterns along with stripes.
With its own knitting production plant at his German headquarters, knitwear is important to the label, which has the breadth to offer yoga pants to cocktail dresses.
Marc Cain’s customer is 35 years old or older, Belfer said, adding that Canadian customers are slightly older. “It’s a professional woman or someone who has the income to afford the brand,” he said. “We’re a premium brand, we’re not luxury. In the U.S., we’re considered contemporary.”
Belfer said American shoppers will be attracted to Marc Cain’s “colors, prints and quality, and the ability to wash every piece. People who have the products end up keeping them for years. We outfit the woman from head to toe.
“Marc Cain has never shied away from different markets,” Belfer said. “We’re in Russia and the Ukraine. The U.S. is a place where Marc Cain can expand. As more and more stores close, it gives us more opportunity. Our product offers something a little different. Once people try it on, they fall in love with it.”
There are also Marc Cain subsidiaries in Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and South Korea.