Cremieux has embarked on a dual-pronged growth strategy as it works to increase sales.
The French brand, which got its start in Saint-Tropez in 1976, has opened its second store in the U.S. and has also created a new contemporary men’s brand for Dillard’s, its longtime American retail partner.
On Dec. 1, Cremieux opened an 800-square-foot boutique at the Royal Poinciana Plaza in Palm Beach, Fla. This joins the company’s SoHo store on Mercer Street that opened nearly four years ago.
A Florida store has long been on the wish list for Stephane Cremieux, chief executive officer of Cremieux and son of founder Daniel Cremieux. “Ever since the brand was founded, we wanted to open a store in Florida,” he said. “So when this opportunity came up, we took it.”
He said the recently renovated Royal Poinciana center is “a special place” with a curated assortment of luxury brands. “You can’t call it a mall. It’s like being in a summer house with fountains, lots of green and palm trees.” The center is home to 30 stores including Cynthia Rowley, Hermès, Magasin, Orlebar Brown and Serenella.
The design of the Cremieux store is very reminiscent of Saint-Tropez, he said, with photos of the French Riviera and a “very romantic ambiance,” he said. “It’s very cool, fresh and colorful.”
Cremieux said that while he had been warned that Palm Beach attracted an older crowd and might not be the right location for the brand, the store has performed well since it opened. “It has a very high-end clientele,” he said, noting that unconstructed sport coats, handmade shirts and sweaters have been among the best sellers so far.
As a result, he said Cremieux has redoubled its efforts to open another store in New York to service the Upper East Side residents who often winter in Palm Beach. “We think there’s an opportunity there,” he said, “as long as we can find a location without a crazy price.”
Although Cremieux had worked to create a wholesale business outside of Dillard’s for several years, the brand is now concentrating more on its own retail for the core label.
“We’re sticking with our own retail,” he said, “but if a high-end multibrand store came to us, we would work with them. We’re just being highly selective with our wholesale accounts and realize that the best strategy for us is our own stores.”
He said the SoHo store, which opened in April 2014, has performed better the past two years. “New York is suffering and there are fewer stores open,” he said. “But we’re doing OK. We attract a lot of tourists from China and France. It’s interesting that the French seem to shop here when they’re on vacation.”
In addition to the Upper East Side, Cremieux said the brand is also hoping to expand its retail presence in Europe where he is shopping for a London location.
Cremieux said the company operates around 20 stores around the world including six in China that it operates with a partner there. Overall, the brand is believed to have worldwide sales of around $180 million.
One thing that hasn’t changed is Cremieux’s longstanding relationship with Dillard’s. For more than 15 years, the brand has had an exclusive licensing agreement with Dillard’s in the U.S.
Stephane Cremieux revealed that earlier this fall, his company worked with Dillard’s to create a new, contemporary brand called Crosby & Howard. “It started in October and is now in 300 doors,” he said.
The collection represents “a new brand positioning” for the company that is expected to appeal to “Cremieux’s younger brother.” He said the line is slim with stretch in “easy colors” with a traditional yet fashionable “contemporary classic” aesthetic. “It sits next to Michael Kors, Hugo Boss and sometimes Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein.”
Prices are moderate with a funnel-neck pullover retailing for $79.50, a plaid twill button-down collar sport shirt selling for $89.50 and stretch corduroy pants for $98.50. The highest priced merchandise on the Dillard’s web site is a plaid blazer for $295.
The Crosby & Howard collection is not associated with Cremieux in any way, he said, but sits on its own. On the retailer’s web site, it is tagged as a “Dillard’s exclusive.”