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Monsoon returns to the US with Accessorize

Monsoon is poised to open five Accessorize stores in the US next year as the retailer tries once more to crack the North American market.

The first Accessorize store will open in Washington in March and it is understood a second store will open in New York. It will represent the second attempt by the Monsoon group – which comprises the eponymous mainstream womenswear chain and the accessories offshoot – to set up a US operation.

In 2001, the retailer launched a US venture, in conjunction with US clothing retailer Charming Shoppes, which saw the opening of about 10 Monsoon and Accessorize stores in high-traffic tourist areas such as Boston. The venture was wound up in 2003, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, when the US economy faltered.

Other UK retailers, including Aurora Fashions-owned Karen Millen and Ted Baker, have continued to consolidate their US positions in spite of a dire economic backdrop in the country over the past year or so.

National retail figures released last week showed a mild recovery in US consumer sentiment as retail sales rose 1.3% in November, a jump for the second consecutive month. 

Robert Clark, senior partner at business intelligence firm Retail Knowledge Bank, said: “If you can get into the US at the moment, there are some good deals to be done, and Accessorize is an eminently exportable format.”

Clark added that the low-ticket nature of the Accessorize offer and therefore low stock cost meant the risk for the Monsoon group would be lower than if it were to open Monsoon womenswear stores in the country.

The group has more than 400 stores in the UK, across both Monsoon and Accessorize.

The business already has stores across Europe and Asia in markets including Japan, Germany and Azerbaijan. In its last published results, Monsoon said sales rose 5.3% to £710m for the 66 weeks to August 30, 2008, and that operating profits had risen 12% on an annualised basis to £68m.

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