Furniture retailer Conran Shop is in talks with Bloomingdales that could result in the British retailer opening concessions in the famous US department store group.
Conran Shop managing director Nick Moore said that the venture would be a low risk, low cost way of expanding in the US, but emphasised that the pair are only in “very early discussions”.
The retailer, founded by design guru Sir Terence Conran, already operates one store in New York, which it recently relocated, but Moore said the plan was for that to be used “as a base for expansion”. But he admitted: “You have to do it very carefully in the States. You have to build up your operation.”
Bloomingdales has more than 40 stores across the US.
Conran Shop’s two-store UK business is outperforming the group and generated like-for-likes up 6% in the six months to September 5. The increase compared with a group rise of 3%. Conran Shop also has shops in Japan and Paris.
Moore said the UK was performing strongly because the business had “reacted to what customers were seeking”. Online sales also drove growth, enabling the retailer to attract new customers outside its London heartland. Conran Shop relaunched its website in September and online sales rocketed 45% in the six-month period.
Moore said Conran Shop “would look” at opening shops outside the capital on the back of strong online sales in places like Manchester, and that the retailer remained on track to make a profit next year for the first time in a decade by driving sales, cutting costs, and discounting less.
He said its entry level range Well Considered was doing “very well” and now represented 20% of sales, compared with 6% last year.
He also said the upmarket Classic Conran range was selling well as customers looked for quality.
On the outlook for the year, Moore said: “The second half is split into two halves - before Christmas, and afterwards. Everyone is fed up with the doom and gloom and wants to treat themselves before VAT goes up.”