Kors to Maintain Expansion Plans

Even amid the global economic crisis, Michael Kors CEO John Idol plans to dramatically expand the company’s retail roster and its footwear presence globally.

“We have not slowed down our initiatives even during this economic climate,” Idol told Footwear News in an exclusive interview last week. “We’re going to do all the things we set out to do and not change our strategy. We’re taking the show on the road, as they say.”

Over the past several years, the New York City-based brand, which is set to unveil a new Milan showroom today, has broadened its reach to occupy hundreds of doors in 72 countries. It is now poised to make an even larger footprint with its branded stores. By the end of 2009, Idol said, the company could add as many as 30 new boutiques, bringing its total store count to 150 domestic doors and 20 in Europe within the next two years.

“We’re focused on the U.S. and Canada,” Idol said. “Europe is our new expansion territory.”

Though Idol said the brand is concentrating on growing the footwear business in Europe, it also is taking steps to open shops in Asia, where it is already sold in about 50 Japanese department stores and another dozen shops in Korea.

“We don’t have a major freestanding store program in place in Asia,” he said. “That is something we will be laying out in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Idol added that over the past few years, the company’s strategy has focused on developing a distinction between its three footwear lines: the high-end Michael Kors collection, the Kors Michael Kors bridge collection and the lower-priced Michael Michael Kors collection.

“That’s one of the strengths of our company — we have a designer business and a diffusion business,” he said. “The consumer today is smarter than she’s ever been. I don’t care if you live in New York or Los Angeles or Atlanta or Nashville. People understand fashion and they know good design. When you look at the brands that are successful, it’s because they have great product.” — M.Y.

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