LONDON — Propelled by strong financial results, Kurt Geiger Group is forging ahead with aggressive expansion.
Neil Clifford, CEO of the London-based retailer, told Footwear News the firm is in “deep thought about brand extension,” both at home and abroad.
“We are weeks away from signing deals in very important fashion markets for Kurt Geiger, as we believe our retail concept has validity on a global scale,” said Clifford, who declined to elaborate except to say the expansion would not be in markets where the company is currently active, namely the U.K., Middle East, France, Italy and Ireland.
Clifford said that half of the company’s business is conducted within the M25 (the motorway that orbits the greater London area), an advantage during a tough economic climate.
“We’ve been lucky because London has become a center for business, and this has helped us navigate through the downturn,” Clifford said. “We also have benefited from the currency perspective and from the fact that London has become a key global center for visitors.” (Kurt Geiger also operates stores in major U.K. airports, including London Heathrow Terminal 5.)
One illustration of London’s buoyancy as a retail hub is the recently opened Selfridges Shoe Galleries. According to Clifford, following the refurbishment of the footwear floor, Kurt Geiger’s operating square footage has grown by 50 percent.
“Selfridges has done a brilliant job, and we are excited to be a key partner with them,” said Clifford. “The business created as a result of the new shoe space is phenomenal, up by 38 percent compared with last year.”
Clifford said he believes there is plenty of room for additional growth on the firm’s home turf, given that Kurt Geiger only owns a 3 percent share of the total U.K. shoe market. The company plans to extend its reach by introducing new categories under the Kurt Geiger nameplate, following the launch of sunglasses earlier this year.
New store openings also have been a major part of the firm’s growth. In the past year, Kurt Geiger bowed 12 standalone stores, including a 3,400-sq.-ft. flagship in July in London’s Covent Garden, opposite the new Apple store.
Additionally, Kurt Geiger has been expanding through licensing deals with brands such as Nine West. The firm is in talks to open three of those stores in the U.K., one of which will be in Central London.
“We expect the brand to become significantly bigger than it is today,” Clifford said, adding that the performance of Nine West’s only London standalone store, in the Bluewater shopping center, was “ahead of plan.”