Just weeks after securing a new investment, FitFlop has unveiled plans to open its first U.S. store in New York this month.
Slated to open on April 17, the new 802-sq.-ft. store located at 107 Mercer Street in SoHo marks the beginning of an expansion plan for the brand in the U.S.
Designed in collaboration with Checkland Kindleysides, the SoHo store is the first location in the world with FitFlop’s new retail concept and design, which features a red wave ceiling, a tactile tile wall and a large screen at the entrance. The shop also includes a flexible perimeter system that’s easily adapted to hold shoes in different silhouettes and sizes as well as the company’s recently launched apparel range.
In an exclusive interview with FN, FitFlop CEO Gianni Georgiades said that the U.S. is the biggest market in terms of growth for the brand. “The store on Mercer Street is what we call ‘our own slice of New York’ and signifies our intent to bringing our vision to the States,” Georgiades said.
Asked why he wanted to open this store now, Georgiades told FN that the “stars were aligned” for this to happen, citing years of focusing on product and marketing while also studying customer feedback. “We’ve learned that when our customer tries on our products in person, conversion is really high,” Georgiades said. “So, for us, this store is sort of a ‘if you build it, they will come,’ moment. It just feels like the right time to do it.”
And while the company is “considering” opening more standalone stores in the U.S. – in what Georgiades calls the “midterm” – the company is placing a majority of its focus on wholesale for right now.
In the last 12 months, FitFlop has entered a “significant number” of new wholesale partnerships across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India (EMEAI) and the U.S., taking its door count to over 5,700 across 60 countries, as well as its Asian retail network.
In the U.S. specifically, Georgiades told FN that FitFlop currently has 171 wholesale accounts with 530 doors, with the majority of its distribution driven by department stores, footwear retailers and pure play partners.
“We’re focused on key account management and their expansion,” the CEO said. “We are driving growth with Nordstrom (up 15 percent over last year), Bloomingdale’s (up 33 percent over last year) and Zappos (up 20 percent over last year).”
Georgiades also mentioned that FitFlop is in the process of inking new strategic distribution partnerships, while also “cleaning up” and “removing” its entry segment and promotional accounts. This has led to a 16 percent increase of sales mix throughout the brand’s premium segment, Georgiades added.
What’s more, to support the brand’s operations and growth in the U.S., Georgiades revealed to FN that FitFlop will close its original White Plains office and will open a showroom and office space in New York this June.
“This is a definitive moment in the history of our brand as a new chapter begins,” Georgiades added.
This opening comes weeks after the footwear brand announced it secured a new five-year $30 million revolving credit facility from Aurelius Finance Company to support its long-term growth ambitions.
FitFlop said the funding will go towards supporting an “increased investment” in branding, marketing and advertising. Georgiades said in a statement at the time that this new funding with Aurelius “represents a tremendous show of confidence” in the growing strength and resilience of the brand. “It’s now time to put the money to work and accelerate our ambitious growth plans,” Georgiades said.
Founded by Marcia Kilgore in 2007, FitFlop is known for its ergonomic design and contemporary styling and offers sandals, sneakers, shoes, boots, plus select apparel items.