Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — Holland & Holland, the gun maker and supplier of shooting clothing, is on an expansion drive that includes plans to open a store in New York within the next 18 months.
Alain Drach, the company’s chairman, said a potential site on 57th Street between Madison and Park Avenues had been found, and that he hoped to conclude the purchase of the seven-story building there within the next week or so.
The aim would be to open the store by this fall, although Drach said the timetable could slip into spring 1996.
Holland & Holland’s planned expansion follows the remodeling of the company’s London store and the opening of its Paris unit last year.
“Our plan is to have a local flagship in such major cities as New York, Milan, Madrid and Munich in addition to those we now have in London and Paris,” he said.
These flagship stores would be about 8,000 square feet in size and would include a gun room as well as selling space for Holland & Holland’s outerwear, knitwear, tailored apparel, footwear and accessories.
Holland & Holland, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, is owned by the Wertheimer family, which also owns Chanel. The firm plans to follow the opening of local flagships with leased departments or corners in department stores in each of the major markets, including Japan.
These smaller areas would focus on the company’s apparel and accessories, Drach said.
The company already is geared to begin wholesaling, with its own wholesale department at its London headquarters that currently serves only its two stores.
Other luxury goods makers question whether the Holland & Holland brand has enough appeal to support a worldwide retail chain without cannibalizing its existing units.
But its moves are being closely watched and already are being copied by at least one other group — Vendome PLC (owner of Cartier, Baume & Mercier, Karl Lagerfeld, Chloe and Alfred Dunhill), which last year bought British gun maker and country clothing retailer Purdey and is reportedly working on plans to expand that brand.
Holland & Holland’s growth comes five years after the company was acquired by the Wertheimers. Drach, who joined in 1992, said he has been cautious in expanding until the right structure was in place.
In addition, Holland & Holland has invested heavily in modernizing its gun making operations and its shooting school.
“We will always remain truthful to our shooting roots,” Drach said. “But our products also will be aimed at those people simply interested in country pursuits.”
Holland & Holland’s product development up until now has focused on clothing and accessories suitable technically for shooting. While it will continue on this track, Drach said the company gradually will add products for everyday wear that are less technical, as well as gifts and accessories. Its first move into this area came last year when it introduced a Holland & Holland watch.
“We are not in the business of fancy fashion. We are trying to make practical and top quality products,” Drach said. “I will never move away from the reason for being of a product,” he added. “Why should I, with the history we have?” — Fairchild News Service