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Exclusive: Warnaco plots multimillion pound Europe expansion plan

US licensee Warnaco is looking to grow Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein Underwear’s European operation by several million pounds, with the UK taking centre stage in its growth plans.

Warnaco is planning to significantly drive the retail arm of the business, growing it from contributing half of the brand’s total European revenues to 66% in the next five years.

But Warnaco president and chief executive Helen McCluskey told Drapers this would not come at the expense of its wholesale business, adding she had no intention of exiting any stockists.

“[Wholesale] will always be an incredibly important part of our business, it’s just the bulk of our growth will come from retail,” she said.

Calvin Klein’s retail expansion will concentrate on London, starting with the revamp of its Regent Street store in November, as well as opening in further sites in the capital. Smaller towns and suburbs of London are also being eyed.

McCluskey said Calvin Klein’s underwear business at Warnaco had a “strong foothold” in the UK and aimed to replicate that in its denim division. Currently the brand has four denim stores in the UK, compared with 17 underwear stores.

“We have the same opportunity with jeans here but we have a little bit more work to do on our product. Come 2014 we will start ramping that up.”

Globally, denim makes up about 25% of the brand’s product mix but McCluskey said she hopes to increase it to 40%.

Womenswear also presents an “enormous opportunity” for Calvin Klein, whose global revenues at Warnaco are dominated by a 55% contribution from men’s clothing and underwear.

“The women’s market is three times the size of men’s so there is huge potential there,” she said. Long term, the ambition is for the women’s side of the business to overtake the men’s. “That will be a focus of this team, to develop the business in jeans and underwear.”

McCluskey is still on the hunt to fill the role of managing director of Warnaco Europe left vacant by Hans Schmitt in July, for which a European leadership council has been created to cover in the interim.

“We are still looking for a replacement,” she told Drapers. “Europe is too big and important not to have someone doing that.”

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