From today's NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/bu...j1QjhTtMFKgIYw
Lord & Taylor Considers Stores Outside U.S.
By MICHAEL BARBARO
Published: April 30, 2008
Lord & Taylor, the quintessentially American department store, is thinking about opening stores outside the country, possibly in Mexico and Canada, its chairman said Tuesday.
The chairman, Richard A. Baker, the head of the private equity firm that owns Lord & Taylor, NRDC Equity Partners, said the 47-store chain might thrive in foreign countries given its focus on American designers like Joseph Abboud and Charles Nolan.
Department stores have ventured beyond American borders before, but most, like Saks Fifth Avenue, do so by promoting a stable of largely European designers.
Lord & Taylor, however, will cast itself as a destination for the best in American fashion, a specialty that the store has emphasized for more than 180 years.
The United States is losing a bit of its luster for many department stores. The American market is crowded — with names like Kohl’s, J. C. Penney, Macy’s and Dillard’s — and apparel sales are growing at anemic rates.
But appetites for clothes are growing at a faster pace abroad, especially in historically poor countries where consumers are developing a taste for designer clothing. (Saks, for example, is opening a store in China.)
“We are thinking about growth outside the U.S.,” Mr. Baker said on Tuesday at a conference held by Emanuel Weintraub Associates, a retail consulting firm. Besides Canada and Mexico, he identified Asia as the most likely market.
Mr. Baker said that no foreign store openings were imminent, but that he had recently been traveling to Mexico and Canada.
NRDC bought Lord & Taylor in 2006 and has since purchased Fortunoff, the home furnishings chain, turning Mr. Baker, 42, into a major player in the retail world.
A foreign venture would be the latest chapter in Lord & Taylor’s remarkable turnaround over the last decade. Once regarded as irrelevant and financially troubled, the retailer has rebounded by recruiting upscale designers and fixing up its once-dowdy stores.