LONDON — Sir Philip Green is moving westward, taking Topshop to Chicago — and beyond — with a flagship set to open on Michigan Avenue in the late spring.
The Chicago store, a corner site next to Filene’s Basement, will span 30,000 square feet and stock a selection of Topshop’s and Topman’s 15,000 lines, tweaked to suit the local market and taking into account the city’s icy winters and steamy summers.
“We like big cities, big corners, big billboard shop frontage — and we like to be on the high street,” said Green in an exclusive interview with WWD. “The location really appeals to us.”
Green declined to give sales projections for the Chicago unit or say how much he planned to invest in the site. However, an industry source familiar with Topshop said the investment would be $10 million to $15 million.
The Chicago store will be the second Topshop in the U.S., after SoHo in Manhattan. Green said he’s “at work” on shop openings on the West Coast and looking at sites in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“We’ve looked at Miami, too, and we want another store in New York — uptown,” he said, adding the New York negotiations had so far been tortuous.
“We’ve had 12 negotiations so far, and I’d just like to say I don’t have ‘stupid’ written on my forehead. I’m not into ego trips. We are investors building a brand, and I need these stores to make money,” he said.
In Chicago, he said, the store would be “an evolution, rather than a revolution” of Topshop’s retail concept, and the merchandise mix “will not be materially different” from that of SoHo or London’s Oxford Circus flagship. The aim, he said, is to open in May or June, barring any last-minute delays.
Asked about sales at the SoHo store, Green declined to give any specific figures but said they were “pretty steady. It’s a one-off store in a big tourist area — similar to the Oxford Circus flagship. I don’t really see it as a normal retail environment.”
In November, the Oxford Circus flagship will host the launch of the final, full Kate Moss for Topshop collection, Green said. He also said he was planning a “live launch” with Moss at the store on Nov. 4. As reported, Green and Moss agreed to downsize the label, continuing with smaller capsule collections two to three times a year.
With regard to London’s Topshop stores overall, he said the sales trends were similar to those in New York. “No fireworks, no disasters,” he explained, adding it was still too early to gauge the impact of the value-added tax hike in Britain to 20 percent — which is slated for January — and the government’s planned raft of austerity measures.
“The government’s plans have been well signposted, so now it’s up to us to manage pricing. Today your products have to be better than ever. There’s no hiding. The key is to have great merchandise,” he said.