Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Felissimo Universal has confirmed market reports this week that it will temporarily close its Manhattan store next month to develop a new direction.
Located at 10 West 56th Street, the store will shut Feb. 17 and is expected to reopen in the late spring as an exhibition space that also offers private label everyday items such as perfumes, fragrances, soft dressing and desk supplies.
The Kobe, Japan-based company employs 55 people at the store and in its New York executive offices in the Fendi building at 720 Fifth Avenue. Felissimo management notified store employees Monday of its new direction and all employees will have the option to stay on or return to work once the site reopens.
The company was unable to say how many employees are expected to stay on. Known for its Asian-influenced design, aromatic items, unusual finds, tea salon and art gallery, the company aims to take on even more of an artistic bent.
The move is in line with its two other retail sites, a freestanding store in Beijing that opened last fall and a concept shop at Nagoya Takashimaya in Japan. Felissimo also has a mail-order catalog.
When the West 56th Street store reopens, it will showcase its private label products, new vision and philanthropic causes, including Design 21, a corporate project that displays the work of various artists and special talents. Previous editions of Design 21 were set up in the Louvre in Paris and at the Beijing store.
The remodeled store will also sell its Tribute 21 plates, another corporate art project that helps Unesco raise money for charities. In addition to perfumes, fragrances, clothing, pillows and desk supplies, the retailer has under consideration doing other private label products that previously have not been offered in the U.S. market.
Felissimo has occupied its five-floor site at West 56th Street, a 100-year-old Beaux Arts town house, since 1992. This marks the second time Felissimo has temporarily closed the doors of its West 56th Street store. The store was reopened in the summer of 1998, after three months of renovations.

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