WARNER BROS. TO EXPAND 57TH ST. STORE

Byline: David Moin

NEW YORK — Joining the 57th Street construction boom, Warner Bros. said Monday that it plans to more than double the size of its world flagship store, redo its facade and expand the product range.
The Warner store — the biggest and most productive in the 137-unit chain — will grow to 75,000 square feet from 30,000 square feet and from three to nine levels. About two-thirds of the space will be for selling.
Sources said the flagship, on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, exceeds $1,000 in sales per square foot. With about 20,000 square feet for selling, that translates to $20 million in annual sales. The store opened in October 1993 and offers an array of apparel, gifts, toys and artwork based on Warner Bros. movies, cartoons and superheros. “We’ve had great success there so far,” said Peter Starrett, president of Warner Bros. Studio Stores. “We really want to increase our presence.”
Among other projects in the works on 57th Street, Chanel is building a flagship at 15 East 57th St., LVMH is building one next door and Nike Town is opening its largest store, in the Trump Tower on the site of the former Galeries Lafayette.
Daiichi Real Estate owns the Warner’s and Tiffany’s flagship buildings on 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. Originally, Daiichi tried to lease the space above the Warner’s store for office use but shifted gears and turned it over to Warner’s. A couple of floors will be used for entertainment, but Starrett would not say if those floors will be used for movies, music or some other form of entertainment. In addition, Warner’s big glass elevator will go to level six or seven. He also declined to specify what new merchandise will be sold, but he did give one clue, saying there will be a “gala reopening” in the fall to coincide with the opening of Space Jam, Warner Bros.’ live action/animation feature starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. It has something to with aliens invading earth and Jordan and Looney Tunes cartoon characters coming to the rescue. “We’re going to have expanded merchandise assortments of what’s in the stores today, as well as new categories,” Starrett said.
“There are certain times of the year when we can’t fit any more people in. We have people stationed at the door at Christmas. We know that at those times, we’re not maximizing our business. By adding selling space, we will absorb many, many more people and make the store into a more comfortable environment.
“Every floor will be a new experience,” Starrett said. “So our challenge is how to get people to go up eight or nine floors without dissipating the interest level. With most stores, it dissipates as you go to higher levels.”
During the expansion, the store will stay open for business.

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