NEW YORK — Oscar de la Renta has finally found a home on Madison Avenue for his first freestanding store.
The designer has signed a lease for a 3,000-square-foot store at 772 Madison Avenue and plans to open it in November. Unlike many of his competitors, de la Renta has held off on opening his own stores until now.
“I am extremely excited about the opening of my boutique. This is an exhilarating time at Oscar de la Renta and I am so pleased to say that we finally found the perfect home on Madison Avenue,” de la Renta said Tuesday.
More than anything, the new location will give the designer the platform on which to expand internationally — a major priority for the company, according to Alex Bolen, who succeeded his father-in-law as chief executive officer in July. The Upper East Side location will also give the company a better sense for the demand for freestanding stores.
“Our business has been very strong with wholesale accounts. To be honest, if the U.S. were the world, we would not be entertaining opening freestanding stores at all. We believe there is tremendous opportunity with Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman and specialty stores. This will allow us to expand internationally” by giving the company the model that it will eventually take abroad.
Sources said Oscar de la Renta generates annual retail sales of $650 million, including licensed products. That includes about $100 million from its collection business.
At this point, international sales account for less than 10 percent of that figure and “ought to be substantially higher,” Bolen said.
Susan Mathieu has been named store manager. She had held that same title at Michael Kors’ Madison Avenue store.
The new store at East 66th Street is in the space formerly occupied by Gucci Group-owned Sergio Rossi. The store will house the designer’s signature collection including daytime and evening pieces, as well as shoes, handbags and belts. Select licensed products such as sunglasses and scented candles are also expected to be sold there. The space is being designed by Steve Blatz Architect.
The designer’s second store is slated to open at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas in April. The company is said to be closing in on a third location in Bal Harbour, Fla., and to be interested in West Coast sites as well.
Within the next three or four years, Bolen expects the company to have four or five stores in the U.S. and “would hope to have several times that in Europe and ultimately in Asia.”
But Bolen insisted the retail expansion is being taken with measured steps.
“As we look at the retail business, the point is not to have stores, but to grow our business and to increase our profit. We always look at things with an eye toward the bottom line,” Bolen said.
Having recently read an article about Céline’s explosive growth from $16 million to more than $200 million, Bolen said that type of gain is what he hopes for.