Could your local Express store be going through a change in the near future?
For its recast collection, Express has a prototype store and is busing about 150 Wall Street analysts and investors from New York to the site in King of Prussia, Pa., on Wednesday. Created by the same Japanese architect responsible for the Colette and Uniqlo stores in Paris, “it really is very different than a mall store,” said Michael Weiss, president and chief executive officer of Express Inc. “It’s more like a store for a wonderful street in a cosmopolitan city.” Changes include a dual-gender “denim lab” and mannequins posed inside tall, round glass vitrines and on a runway down the selling floor.
The prototype, Weiss explained in an exclusive interview, “segments the four elements of the collection in a way that showcases them and makes them more understandable.” Furthermore, stores age and should be overhauled every seven to 10 years, he added. Weiss also added the new format could be taken to streets in San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and Manhattan, and other downtowns, and regards it as a flagship strategy with a larger footprint and an urban look, representing a departure from the mall-based approach of the past… but will these cities actually be part of the change?
In Manhattan, Express shockingly only operates six stores. “We could easily double that,” Weiss said. “We are looking at prime locations in Manhattan. We would like a flagship in Manhattan, a bigger space. We would like 42nd Street.” Weiss also wants a larger location in SoHo, from the current site at 584 Broadway. As for Chicago, “We have a good store on Michigan Avenue. We could have a better store there.…In Aventura [north Miami] we are looking to be bigger, but it’s a fabulous store there.”
But don’t be on the lookout for these new stores to be out just yet. The decision will not be made on the prototype for a quite some time. “We will call it in a few months, but we are really hoping to go sooner rather than later with the new design,” Weiss said. “Some of the new stores will be under the existing look because they were in the pipeline before the new store design was fully executed. We are very enthused, but not ridiculous. We are not financially committed to this yet until we get the read on what it does for business and our customers.”