Whistles, the British fashion retailer, has partnered with Bloomingdale's to open its first retail effort in the United States inside the chain's New York City flagship.
Macy's-owned Bloomingdale's (NYSE: M) will house a Whistles shop-in-shop in its 59th Street location in Manhattan. The expansion for Whistles comes as the company embarks on a two-year growth plan that includes similar concepts in department stores worldwide, including France, Germany, Russia and China.
The partnership with Bloomingdale's allows Whistles to test the waters in North America before making larger, more expensive real estate commitments. The companies have agreed to a concession model that allows Whistles to earn larger sales margins and have more control over image and stock.
"We really felt that Bloomingdale's would give us a really good exposure to the biggest number of customers in Manhattan. There are other department stores in Manhattan, but none of them really achieve the footfall that Bloomingdale's do," Whistles CEO Jane Shepherdson told The Business of Fashion.
If the New York debut goes well, the company says it will begin looking for a West Coast retailer for a future pilot location. Whistles is the latest in a long list of apparel and accessories retailers to cross the pond. H&M, Zara, Topshop and most recently Uniqlo are all making inroads in the United States. Whistle's plan to partner with established department store chains borrows a page from Topshop's playbook, as the retailer now has roughly 60 locations inside Nordstrom stores including the fast fashion retailer's latest collection designed by model Kate Moss.
Several U.S. retailers are also expanding into new markets internationally. Most recently, Chico's (NYSE: CHS) said it will open three new stores in Ontario, the first locations for the Chico's chain north of the border. Nordstrom also officially announced its expansion to Canada in September 2012, and is planning to roll out Rack stores in the country starting in 2017.
-See this Business of Fashion article
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