Reiss commits to the US and other markets

James Thompson
Monday 01 August 2011 00:00

The fashion chain Reiss has reaffirmed its commitment to the US market, despite closing two stores in recent months.

When it launched in 2005, Reiss vowed to have up to 100 stores in the US , but it now has just seven after it closed a shop in Miami and another in Washington DC.

However, David Reiss, the founder and chief executive, said the two closures were simply part of its strategy to focus on "prime flagship locations", instead of secondary sites.

He said: "Reiss continues to look for new stores in US and is actively looking for further stores in New York and other cities," although he declined to provide further details.

Mr Reiss also said the chain was opening a shop-in-shop in the Bloomingdales department store in New York this month, which could be rolled out to up to 13 Bloomingdales stores if it went well.

But Reiss's plans for the US now appear to be less grandiose than when it opened its first outlet in New York in 2005. At that time, Stephen Downes, the retailer's finance director, told Drapers magazine: "We could go up to 100 stores and there's no reason why it couldn't eventually be more profitable than the UK."

Some of the UK's biggest retailers have found the US a tough nut to crack, with Sainsbury's selling its Shaw's business in 2004 and Marks & Spencer offloading its Brooks Brothers chain in 2001.

When Tesco launched its Fresh & Easy chain in the US in November 2007, it talked of the potential for 1,000 shops on the country's west coast, Nevada and Arizona. But a brutal recession slowed its progress and the 214-store operation has pushed back its break-even expectations to 2012-13.

But Mr Reiss remains upbeat onits US operation and Reiss's wider expansion overseas. He said: "A major part of our emphasis is on international growth and the US is a major part of it."

The retailer gained valuable publicity in May, when the Duchess of Cambridge wore a £175 camel-coloured Reiss dress to meet Barack and Michelle Obama. The Shola dress sold out quickly and the retailer's website crashed minutes after she appeared on television wearing it.

Reiss, which has about 60 UK stores and 26 concessions, also operates in China, Denmark, Russia, Qatar and Bahrain.

The retailer – which is thought to have posted a 43 per cent rise in underlying profits to £13.1m for the year to 31 January – will open its first store in Hong Kong in November and its first in Germany around the year-end.

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