Basler is bringing new facets to its U.S. business.

This story first appeared in the December 31, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As part of a global strategy that includes expanding its freestanding retail network and transforming several in-store shops into concessions, the Goldbach, Germany-based bridge label opened a freestanding store at Somerset Collection in Troy, Mich., this month. The mall is anchored by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, and contains stores such as Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Louis Vuitton — placing the 1,600-square-foot Basler boutique in a luxury environment.

“The Basler retail stores are a great opportunity to showcase the Basler brand [and] build a strong retail business, which will in turn inspire the wholesale business in the North American market, where we have been present for many years,” said Ingo Hesse, Basler’s managing director for sales and marketing.

The Troy boutique is Basler’s third in the U.S. Similar stores opened this year at Tysons Galleria in McLean, Va., and The Waterside Shops in Naples, Fla.

In addition to these openings, on Dec. 1, Basler took over the management of 10 Bloomingdale’s corners and turned them into concessions, giving the brand more control over the product mix and in-store merchandising.

The moves are all part of the overall strategy for the brand, which was acquired by private equity firm Triton for an undisclosed sum in 2006.

“Triton’s plans are to grow Basler in existing key markets and new markets, and to develop more managed retail spaces,” Hesse said.

Basler operates 82 retail stores worldwide, including the three U.S. units.

“Basler will continue to diversify and to increase [its] retail share,” Hesse added. “Basler’s key success factors are the quality of the fabrics, the fit from sizes six to 20 and the color offering. These factors will of course continue, while expanding the business and becoming more of a vertical player.”

To better serve the North American retail business, the company formed Basler America Inc., which is headed by Robin Kurkhill, the division’s retail director. The Isabella Co., the New York-based multiline showroom that represents several European bridge labels, will continue to handle the wholesale business of Basler in the U.S.

Andreas Kurz, president of Akari Enterprises LLC, the Los Angeles-based fashion consulting firm, advises Basler on its international strategy, especially the U.S. business and retail growth. Kurz, who is also a member of Basler’s strategic board, declined to disclose sales projections for Basler for 2010, but said: “Given the current environment, we have conservative plans and are confident that we can overachieve them.”

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