Kurt Geiger CEO Neil Clifford is bullish on America.
Despite a disappointing launch into the market in 2013, which included opening and then closing dozens of stores across the country, the British powerhouse is ready to move back into the U.S. once more. And this time, the brand has a new strategy and mindset.
“I needed a bloody good reason to come back to America,” Clifford said at a presentation at the FN CEO Summit in New York on Wednesday. “We knew we needed a plan.”
In 2018, Kurt Geiger officially returned to the U.S. market as part of a multi-pronged growth push at the company. Steven Sousa, a former top Michael Kors exec, joined Kurt Geiger as international director in 2017 and was central to this expansion.
To launch this re-entry, Kurt Geiger focused less on an aggressive store expansion and more on e-commerce sales and wholesale partnerships with retailers like Nordstrom and Dillard’s.
This year, the brand plans to double the size of its business in America, while growing its showroom in New York. In 2023, the company expects $100 million in wholesale sales and between $220 and $250 million in US dollars across all retail sales, including digital. Kurt Geiger’s online presence in the U.S. is also on track to be 50% bigger than its online presence in the U.K.
Clifford further shared that 80% of Kurt Geiger’s business in the U.S. is handbags, though he sees room to grow the company’s footwear offerings as well.
Kurt Geiger is also focusing on a brick-and-mortar expansion. “We love stores,” Clifford said, adding that the plan is to open the first U.S. Kurt Geiger store in Aventura, Fla. “We think stores are wonderful.”
However, the challenge with stores, he added, is determining the best location to open them as well as the size and investments to make.
Other challenges in the U.S. market include the lack of visibility regarding projections for the business during a time of economic uncertainty, as well as inventory availability in the U.S.
Despite the concerns, Clifford said he’s now ready to move full-steam ahead with the brand’s U.S. expansion. “You can’t wait forever,” he said.
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