Express eyes international growth

Specialty retailer Express expects to have its first stores in Latin America open by year end.

The operator of 600 U.S. stores catering to customers in their 20s and 30s has identified international expansion as a key growth driver. The company, through one of its subsidiaries, entered into a franchise agreement with Fastco Commercial S.A., to open more than 30 stores during the next five years in markets that include Panama, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia, The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The first three locations are expected to open by the fourth quarter in Panama, Peru and Costa Rica.

“This is another exciting step in Express’ international expansion strategy, particularly with such an experienced partner,” said Michael Weiss, president, chairman and CEO of Express. “Express’ fashion forward product offering is perfectly aligned with the Latin American consumer’s preference for fashion, fit and color. The Hispanic population in the U.S. has demonstrated a passion for Express and we look forward to expanding that passion throughout Central and South America.”

The product assortment at the new stores will resemble that found in U.S. stores with some moderate seasonal adjustments and could serve as a blueprint for further international expansion. The company has identified international expansion as one of its four pillars of growth and a significant long-term revenue opportunity. The view stems from the fact that the fashion content of the Express brand is thought to have universal appeal to the 20- to 30-year-old demographic.

As the brand expands internationally plans call for a combination of company-owned stores, joint venture relationships and franchise agreements. To facilitate the growth, Express will undertake brand building exercise next year when it open flagship stores in San Francisco’s Union Square and New York’s Times Square as those locations are destinations for international tourists.