Byline: Robert Lohrer

NEW YORK — In its most ambitious U.S. growth maneuver, Hugo Boss, the Metzingen, Germany-based luxury apparel company, has landed a prime spot on Fifth Avenue to open its largest store.
The 23,000-square-foot unit, on the southeast corner of 56th Street, is expected to open by early March 2001 and will be among the largest designer stores in the country. It will have four floors and sell men’s wear, the new Hugo Boss women’s line that is scheduled to launch next spring and accessories.
“The minute the space was available, we knew we wanted it,” said Marty Staff, president of Hugo Boss USA, who first scouted it last March. “As we’ve never done anything of this scope or magnitude before, I intend to devote one-third of my time to this project for the next year.”
The retail space, formerly a recessed corner that was home to Steuben Glass and Revillon, is being extended to the building property line, a retrofit financed by Hugo Boss and the building owner, Yale University.
“This puts the brand on a different level,” said Faith Hope Consolo, a retail broker with Garrick Aug Worldwide Ltd. “That’s a prime Fifth Avenue corridor. It’s not for the shy. It’s not for the weak, and it’s not for the nonrich companies. Not only do you have the rent, but you have to build the store, and then you have big operating expenses.”
Staff declined to specify how much the store would cost, but did say, “This is going to be a very expensive project.”
Still, Hugo Boss expects the store to be profitable with projected sales of approximately $20 million per year, Staff said. “Our image is already quite strong, so we’re looking for this to be a profit center.”
According to Consolo, Fifth Avenue rents are $600 per square foot on the ground floor, $150 per square foot on a second floor, and $50 per square foot on a third floor.
The Hugo Boss New York flagship will be twice as large as any of the nearly 300 Boss stores around the world. The interior, which will feature 40-foot-high ceilings, is being designed by Helmut Pummer, the lead architect for Boss’s global network of stores. The New York flagship will carry all of the German clothing and sportswear company’s lines, including Baldessarini, Boss Hugo Boss, and its younger and more contemporary line, Hugo Hugo Boss.
Staff said he was sensitive to the reaction of leading New York retail accounts and that he had spent much of Friday informing them of the decision.
“We’re in a growth curve with retailers in New York City. We’re not going to let that rate of growth slide. And at this point, it’s conventional wisdom that a designer shop helps businesses among retail accounts in that area.”
For Boss Hugo Boss, the product mix is expected to be 65 percent men’s, 35 percent women’s. The store will also carry Boss Hugo Boss accessories, including eyewear, underwear and watches.
“We design all these products together,” Staff said. “This will be a way to demonstrate to everyone that this is a full-fledged designer collection.”
And Baldessarini and Boss Hugo Boss clothing and accessories may actually be more expensive at the flagship.
“It’ll carry a lot of the more special things that stores don’t buy,” Staff said, including higher-priced clothing that will be presented differently from retail accounts.
Staff promises a heavy entertainment quotient at the flagship. That could mean a combination of cultural events and parties and high-tech shopping amenities.
Plans call for a separate entrance and sales staff for the Hugo portion. That area will include a cafe as well, Staff said.

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