HOT TOD’S EXPANDS IN CALIFORNIA

Byline: Kristin Young

BEVERLY HILLS — Tod’s SpA has spiffed up and spread out.
Sporting the modernized look of four other flagships around the world, the boutique at 333 North Rodeo Drive opened to the public Thursday. The Tod’s store is now 7,500 square feet — nearly triple the size of the space in which it’s been operating since 1995.
Meanwhile, sister company Hogan is gearing up to open its first door on the West Coast this week with a 3,500-square-foot boutique at 131 North Robertson in West Hollywood, just a few miles away from Tod’s.
Diego Della Valle, owner of both Italian luxury brands, sat down with WWD at Tod’s late last week. He’s in town for the openings and this Sunday’s Oscars. He noted that he expected the Tod’s Beverly Hills flagship to be one of the most successful stores in the stable, with 75 percent of its business coming from locals and remainder from tourists. Driven by sales of leather accessories, Tod’s overall sales increased 15 percent, to $229.9 million in 2000. About 10 percent of sales is net profit, the company reported. Tod’s accounts for 61 percent of sales, followed by Hogan, with 25 percent, and another accessories label, Fay, with 14 percent.
“In my opinion, this is like a comfortable house,” said Della Valle, accompanied on this day by his son Emanuele, who is Hogan’s U.S. ambassador, and Claudio Castiglioni, chief executive officer of Tod’s USA. “I think the message that we want to give our customer is luxury, and we chose this image [to reflect that].”
The boutique, created by in-house architects, is expansive and more streamlined than the previous store. A two-story glass facade floods the space with natural light. Inside, there are warm accents, such as tan leather tables, blond hardwood floors and leather wall panels.
Tod’s women’s collections — best known for the pebble-soled driving loafer and preppy handbags — are housed on on the first floor. Men’s is located on the second floor. Shoes retail prices range from $325 to $375; handbags can sell for $750 to $2,500.
In coming months, a made-to-order area will open, providing customers with color and fabric options of existing Tod’s styles.
A third floor, reached via an elevator from the back parking lot, has a VIP showroom with a leather-topped table, white slip-covered chairs and an outdoor terrace with an impressive city view.
Here, Tod’s representatives can show collections from upcoming seasons, cater to a celebrity’s needs or feed the Hollywood publicity machine.
Della Valle said the store’s move toward a contemporary, more modern look is part of the its growth strategy and its “new luxury” concept.
“When I speak about new luxury, I think about high-quality, modern and useful [goods],” he said.
Tod’s began rolling out the larger flagship format last August with a 5,000-square-foot space in Milan. The goal: to accommodate expanded product offerings and to capture more profit, he said. Beverly Hills joins London, Paris and New York.
Small leather goods and footwear have added more fashion-driven styles to the signature tote and loafer repertoire, including small sequined evening bags and high-heeled stilettos.
Eyewear and women’s apparel are on the drawing board — not as licensees, said Della Valle, but divisions fully under company control.
Tod’s launched an initial public offering on the Milan Bourse last November, allowing the company to fund store growth. An aggressive retail expansion will eventually add 50 more stores, said Della Valle. There are about 50 Tod’s stores worldwide.
“We are in a geographic development around the world,” he said.
The strongest opportunities, he noted, now exist in Asia, where Tod’s does 5 percent of its business and expects to open 30 stores, and the U.S., accounting for 20 percent of its business and where it will open at least four more units.
Tod’s now operates six stores in the U.S., including a 7,500-square-foot flagship in New York, and smaller, 1,000-square-foot stores in Bal Harbour, Fla.; Chicago; Aspen, Colo.; and Costa Mesa, Calif.
Della Valle confirmed that Tod’s is negotiating for four more American stores, including an 8,000-square-foot unit in Honolulu, as well as spaces in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Boston. All are expected to open by the end of 2002.
“We have spent a lot of money on construction and it’s time for those markets to give back [to the company],” he said.
As for the hipper Hogan store, Emanuele Della Valle said the company had considered Melrose Heights but chose Robertson Boulevard neighboring MAC, Ghost and Maxfield Bleu. “It was a good compromise between extremely upscale and funky,” he said.
The first Hogan store in the U.S. opened in SoHo, New York, last November.
All Hogan collections will be offered at the store, including shoes, which generally sell between $275 and $400, and handbags from $650 to $1,200.
There are 25 Hogan stores worldwide.
Like Tod’s, Hogan is also expected to be a moneymaker, according to the younger Della Valle. “We don’t open money-losing cathedrals that are built on somebody’s ego,” he said. “We want to build stores that are profit machines.”