Byline: Michael Marlow

BEVERLY HILLS — Robert Gray, chairman of St. John, doesn’t think selling the collection in three different stores on the same block here is a case of overdistribution.
Last Wednesday, Gray opened a 6,000-square-foot St. John store on Wilshire Boulevard. It’s situated between Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, which also sell St. John.
“The visibility on the street is not going to hurt,” said Robert Gray, chairman of St. John.
He said he expects his new store to spur volume, rather than siphon sales from Saks and Neiman’s. “The idea is for them to see how we present the product, and then maybe they will improve their presentations,” Gray said.
Saks and Neiman’s in Beverly Hills do more than $10 million in sales with St. John, according to Gray. The new store, at 9654 Wilshire Blvd., is project ed to post over $3 million in sales its first year, Gray said. The store is open and airy and has white rift oak walls accented with black marble, chrome and limestone. It also has a bar. Kelly Gray, executive vice president of the company and daughter of Robert Gray, designed the store. “The bar is my crowning achievement,” she said. “That was my gift to the men.”
The store will carry all St. John product, including the St. John signature and Griffith & Gray designer collections, shoes, handbags, fragrance and accessories. A party for about 200 guests was held Tuesday night, the day before the opening. Landlords on Rodeo Drive tried to get St. John to move in for years, but Gray said Wilshire Boulevard gets more local traffic than Rodeo, and that swayed his decision. “Wilshire is going to become the place to shop,” Gray said. “The tourists and tourist buses will always go on Rodeo. That’s not our customer. It never has been.”
St. John has 16 freestanding stores around the country.

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