LOS ANGELES — Capretto LLC, parent to the Elyse Walker and Towne by Elyse Walker brands, said it promoted Summer Holl to the newly created position of president as the company looks to ramp up its brick-and-mortar and private label business.
Holl, who previously served as vice president and joined the company in 2015 from Intermix where she was retail director, was credited by the company for helping expand the business. It has, after all, built out its footprint faster in more recent years. That began with the opening of a second door in Newport Beach after 16 years operating as a single Elyse Walker store in Pacific Palisades. The company in September launched the new Towne by Elyse Walker concept, which now has stores in Palisades Village and The Glen Centre in Los Angeles’ Beverly Glen neighborhood.
“It was really cool to be in California working with this person who had this healthy business and I just saw so much low-hanging fruit. The brand was so much bigger than the physical presence, so we really over the last two years put in the infrastructure to support the coming growth,” Holl said. “For me, the main focus and priority is not only the growth of the existing store business but new store growth.”
There’s also a private label brand the company hopes to launch in the second half of this year. The specifics of where it’s being produced and other details are still being hammered out, but it will be casual luxury for men and women.
Walker had already dipped her toe in running her own label with former longtime employee Sable Banoun, who began working for the company at the age of 15. Holl called that label, ThePerfext (pronounced “perfect”), a “really great trial” ahead of this new launch.
Walker handed off ThePerfext business to Banoun last year and it was re-branded to Sablyn, which now sits as one of the company’s top sellers, Holl said.
The new label will complement Towne as that concept continues to grow. Holl and company founder Elyse Walker think the store footprint can eventually get to around 20 to 25 doors. Towne’s real estate sweet spot is in the 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot range. Holl confirmed there are some leases pending, all on the West Coast with a jump to the East Coast potentially next year.
“For us, it was never about a big 50- to 100-store chain,” Holl said. “As I think about how the business has changed, since I’ve been in it for a very long time — since I was a kid — for our clients, malls are becoming an obsolete option. So we look at these lifestyle centers as an alternate. Ideally, 20 to 25 [Towne stores] works because those are easily identifiable markets that make sense without completely saturating the market.”
Walker’s namesake brick-and-mortar business, which act as mini department stores, require much larger footprints and will not grow as fast or as large. Holl said there’s potential there to open at least five or six more in key markets.
The privately held business doesn’t disclose performance numbers, but all stores are expected to be profitable this year, with last year ending in double-digit growth. Towne will certainly help with the top line as more doors come online.
There’s also the prospects in men’s that’s continued to surprise the executive team.
Towne was aimed at dabbling in the men’s business and it’s been doing better than expected. Holl pointed to the newest town door in Beverly Glen, which, while only a few days in, has seen men’s account for 40 percent of the business. In the Palisades men’s is between 35 and 40 percent.
“I think women’s will always continue to lead [overall revenue],” Holl said. “That said. I’m just surprised at the proportion of the business that it’s [men’s] accounting for.”