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Versace plans dozens of stores a year to meet US$2b target

Under new owner Capri Holdings the luxury brand will see a massive revamp in design and greater focus on accessories

Donatella Versace, chief creative officer of Versace, primps and preens at the 2019 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Versace's stores, previously focused on selling clothes, will be reorganised to feature more handbags, footwear and small leather goods.

New York

VERSACE'S new owner wants more stores, and it wants them fast.

Capri Holdings Ltd, which bought the Italian fashion label for about US$2.2 billion late last year from Donatella Versace - who is now the chief creative officer of the luxe brand - plans to open dozens of stores annually and renovate existing shops to reach its goal of doubling Versace's annual sales, executives said at an investor day on Tuesday. The company also will spend more on the brand's marketing as it expands into handbags and accessories.

"It's very clear: The productivity in our stores is not what it should be," said Jonathan Akeroyd, Versace's chief executive officer, who aims to nearly double the boutiques' sales per square foot. "We need to rapidly increase productivity and this will really be the real driver to take us to our US$2 billion revenue target."

Capri, which also owns the Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo brands, wants to expand from its existing 188 Versace stores to about 300 by 2022, with new locations across each geographic region. More than half of Versace's existing store fleet is in Asia, including 40 in China.

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This week, the label will open a Beijing store that will be its biggest in China, and it's considering opening second stores in Paris and London. All new stores will be under Versace's primary brand name. Two other lines - Versace Versus and Versace Collection - have already been discontinued under Capri's ownership.

Versace's stores, previously focused on selling clothes, will be reorganised to feature more handbags, footwear and small leather goods. Locations that have opened in recent months feature prominent displays of satchels, briefcases and backpacks for both men and women, where there would previously have been dresses and jumpsuits. A new shop in Florence, for instance, devotes 30 per cent of its space to accessories.

Meanwhile, Versace's 28 US stores will undergo a "full refurbishment programme," Mr Akeroyd said.

Revamps are also under way in design. New styles will push what the label calls its "brand codes," such as the Medusa logo and gold barocco print Versace is well-known for, integrating them into different product segments such as the hardware on handbags.

The marketing team is being restructured as well. Mr Akeroyd said advertising at Versace was too "old school" and driven by fashion shows and photography. Upcoming campaigns will be more focused on products and marketed across social media.

Versace's first major product launch under the Capri umbrella will occur this fall, when it releases the Virtus line of bags unveiled on its fashion runways in February. The company hopes to grow accessories to 60 per cent of its total business from its current 35 per cent. BLOOMBERG

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