LONDON — Kurt Geiger has landed on Oxford Street with an explosion of color, the first step in a major retail rollout that will see it open nine stores in North America in the coming year.
The brand’s new flagship on the corner of Oxford and Holles streets is its largest store to date, spanning 2,916 square feet, with interiors by designed by chief creative officer Rebecca Farrar-Hockley and the architect Stefano Ripoli, formerly of David Collins Studio.
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The colorful space, which was formerly G-Star Raw, has soaring ceilings and a hot weather palette of aqua, raspberry, bright blue and baby pink. The interiors feature stained glass window panes and bright, dense floral prints designed for the brand by the East London interiors firm House of Hackney.
Neil Clifford, chief executive officer, said the team had been looking for three years for the ideal London location and they are eager to take the new store concept to North America in the coming months.
In an interview, Clifford said he was keen to secure a large corner site “because our product is like jewelry — bright, colorful and distinctive. We work in London, under gray skies, but we always dream of blue sky places, and we love color.”
The store has concrete ceilings and walls and illuminated antique brass shelving. Antiqued brass eagles, the brand’s motif, appear on the signs, door handles and cabinets.
At the entrance, customers are greeted by “London” spelt out in mosaic tiles, while the phrase “Kind By Design” has been carved into the stone façade of the central service counter. It’s a nod to the brand’s Kindness Foundation, which helps young people gain professional experience in the creative industries.
The store is organized around different hubs which showcase footwear, handbags and accessories. There is an immersive “shoe lounge” and a menswear section showcasing the first collection by Samuel D’Avoine, who in the past has worked at brands including Jimmy Choo, Coach and Hunter.
Clifford added that Oxford Street is the first store that makes the team “100 percent happy. It is the visual representation of the brand, and expresses our joy and love of color. And there is enough space for the product to breathe.”
It also heralds a new phase of expansion.
Next month Kurt Geiger will open three stores in Mexico with local partner El Palacio before moving across the border to the U.S., the brand’s largest market globally. Overall, Kurt Geiger has 400 points of sale in North America.
In April, the brand will begin its U.S. rollout, opening a 1,500-square-foot store at Aventura Mall in Miami. Kurt Geiger plans to open a second standalone unit in Florida, three in southern California, and one in New York.
The brand is already distributed through Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Bloomindale’s and online. Clifford said Kurt Geiger’s online business in the U.S. is $40 million, while overall revenue in the region is $250 million.
Clifford said he’s proud of the inroads Kurt Geiger has made over the past decade, but said the brand still needs to prove itself in the market, which has long been a difficult one for British companies to crack due to its size, the diversity of its customer base, and homegrown competition.
Despite those challenges, Kurt Geiger appears to have found a lucrative niche.
Clifford said the brand has been benefiting from a “white space” in the U.S. market, offering handbags priced at $300, and shoes at $150. The bags and shoes are made mainly from leather, and he believes the value proposition is strong.
Although Kurt Geiger is best known for footwear, revenue growth has been coming from a number of channels, namely handbags, which now represent 60 percent of the business. It also sells accessories including small leather goods, belts, hats, gloves, jewelry and tights.
Overall revenue is 400 million pounds, with 50 percent coming from the brand and the other half from Kurt Geiger’s U.K. luxury division, which operates footwear departments for retailers including Harrods and Selfridges.
The Oxford Street store and North American rollout are the fruits of a strategy reboot, which took place during the pandemic.
Clifford said the brand’s private equity owners Cinven, which purchased a majority stake in 2016, supported the team and urged it to view lockdown as an opportunity, which they did.
Between 2020 and 2022, Kurt Geiger took advantage of its expiring leases in London and closed five stand-alone stores, including its units in Covent Garden. It now has three stand-alone locations in the British capital: the new unit on Oxford Street, one at Westfield London, and another at Westfield Stratford City.
During the lockdown years, the company also polished its digital and accessories offer and refined its international expansion strategy.
As it pushes further into the U.S., Kurt Geiger is also building its business in continental Europe, where it has 400 points of sale. Clifford said he’s expecting a surge in growth over the next couple of years.
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