LVMH’s Pucci Enters Fashion ‘Big Boys Club’ With Expansion Drive

After a dormant first decade under the ownership of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the Pucci fashion brand plans to step up expansion as it seeks to join the “big boys club” of luxury apparel labels.

The Florence, Italy-based clothier, whose swirling designs were made famous by Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, will open or refit as many as 25 outlets by the end of 2014, according to Pucci creative director Peter Dundas.

Retail expansion will help “make Pucci the brand it deserves to be,” Dundas said in the entrance of Emilio Pucci’s new marbled boutique on Avenue Montaigne in Paris.

LVMH is boosting investment in some of its smaller businesses and buying stakes in others after last year posting the weakest growth in sales of fashion and leather-goods since 2009. The Paris-based company this month acquired stakes in fashion designer J.W. Anderson and shoemaker Nicholas Kirkwood.

Laudomia Pucci, deputy chairman and image director of the business founded by her father in 1947, said selling to LVMH in 2000 has been positive for the business.

“I’m lucky that it happened at the time,” Pucci said in an interview at the Avenue Montaigne store, which is meant to resemble a Florentine palace. Competing for clients, or “luxury nomads,” would be harder without the backing of the industry leader, she said.

Pucci had revenue of less than 100 million euros ($135 million) in 2012, according to estimates by Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas. LVMH’s fashion and leather-goods sales last year were about 9.9 billion euros.

Caftans, Skirts

Until 2011, Pucci was sleeping, according to Chief Executive Officer Alessandra Carra, who joined the same year.

The maker of 990-euro caftans and 460-euro skirts plans to have 60 outlets from Miami to Mumbai by the end of next year, compared with 50 now, Carra said. Its goal is to increase the proportion of revenue from its own boutiques to about 60 percent from 50 percent currently. Third-party retailers will remain an important part of the brand’s distribution because they often understand the consumer better, Carra said.

“The push we’re doing now is to accelerate growth that the brand would have had organically,” said the CEO, who started the brand’s expansion with a store in Manhattan last November. Revenue is growing by a “double-digit” percentage, she said, calling the business “very healthy at the moment.”

At the same time, Pucci is expanding in categories such as shoes and bags, which it sees accounting for as much as 35 percent of sales compared with 20 percent now, Carra said. Furniture and cosmetics are also planned, the CEO said, adding that the company is looking at “a couple of projects.”

“We’re moving into the big boys club,” Dundas said. “It’s not enough any more to do just a pretty frock.”

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