French contemporary label Maje opened its first U.S. store Wednesday at 145 Spring Street in SoHo. The 935-square-foot space is the first of five to six units the label plans to open in Manhattan by March.

This story first appeared in the November 11, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Our strategy is to open several stores of modest size instead of one big flagship,” said Frédéric Biousse, chief executive officer of SMCP Group in France and ceo of SMCP USA. “We prefer to cater to a local clientele instead of having one very large global store where people will feel anonymous and the level of service will not be high enough.” Maje is owned by Groupe SMCP, which last year sold a 51 percent stake to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s private equity arm, L Capital.

The next store in Maje’s New York network will open Nov. 22 in an 895-square-foot space on Bleecker Street, and Biousse is in the midst of finalizing negotiations on locales in Midtown and the Upper East and West Sides.

Los Angeles, where Biousse said offers have already been made on spaces, is next in the company’s expansion plan, which also includes a robust department store push with Bloomingdale’s. Shop-in-shops opened in its 59th Street, SoHo and Short Hills, N.J. stores in September, and Biousse said there are plans to expand into more in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chevy Chase, Md.; Garden City, N.Y., and Miami by February.

Maje already has 450 stores in Europe, but the recent spaces are being designed with a new vision in mind. Meant to look like a Parisian apartment with oak floors, light gray walls and brushed brass fixtures, Biousse said the concept, which has been tested in London, Paris and Spain and is designed by an in-house team, is more simplified and upscale.

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