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EXPRESS Switches Times Square Sites

ExpressWSJThose if us who weren't born yesterday will remember when a trendy offshoot of The Limited eventually called EXPRESS became one of the hottest chain stores of the 1980s and 90s. By the turn of this century, however, Express, along with the namesake chain of its parent company began to falter as stores like Zara and H&M offered stiff competition and Limited Brands turned its focus to the still vital Victoria's Secret,  Bath & Body Works and the umpteenth attempt to turn the sad shell of a store that continues to call itself Henri Bendel into some kind of profitable chain. The two chains were sold off in 2007, and a slow but deliberate revamp has been under way since then. Express has announced plans to raise its profile with the kind of major flagships that its competitors have increase their recognition among customers. For a few months now, a deal to take over the former ESPN Zone restaurant space at 3 Times Square has been expected to be announced for a new Express flagship. It's a prestige space with 42nd Street exposure, but in a surprise move the chain has revealed that it will be taking over a different restaurant space, a somewhat less glamorous T.G.I.Fridays in 1552 Broadway at 46th Street (pictured above right). Why the switch? Observers suggest that because rents in the Times Square neighborhood are so high, often clearing $1,800 per square foot, subtle differences in location can make a crucial difference in the success or failure of a store. 46th street is closer to what is known as the "bow tie" where Broadway and Seventh Avenue cross. Putting it simply, "Everybody comes to Times Square to see what's going on in the bow tie. Not everybody walks all the way down to 42nd street," Cushman & Wakefield retail broker C. Bradley Mendelson tells The Wall Street Journal. At a rent that could top $20 million a year, even a slight location miscalculation could make a difference in the fortunes of the entire chain, and Express C.E.O. Michael Weiss is expecting the new flagship strategy to relaunch the brand to the teeming throngs of tourists, slack-jawed and otherwise, who crowd through Times Square on a daily basis. Look for a splashy Express opening sometime soon.

Express to Times Square (Wall Street Journal)


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