J. Crew to Look at Paris Locations in Overseas Expansion Drive

J. Crew on Regent Street, London | Photo: Tim Jenkins

NEW YORK, United States — J. Crew Group Inc., the retail chain owned by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners LP, will be looking at store locations in Paris as part of plans to expand outside the U.S.

The company plans to open stores in capital cities worldwide to boost brand awareness, said Chief Executive Officer Millard “Mickey” Drexler, who said he will head to the French capital in a few weeks to look at some sites.

“We are looking where we see the right environment, like Paris is obviously a great city to do business in,” Drexler said in an interview in Hong Kong today, ahead of tomorrow’s opening of its first two Asia locations in the Chinese city. “When we see the right location, we will take a shop.”

J. Crew, whose customers include U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, has been expanding overseas and the Hong Kong stores are part of the company’s plan to open outlets abroad this year including in London and Canada.

“The ambition is to open mostly in capital cities,” Drexler said. “The ambition is to go slow and do it well with great integrity, and not do it quickly and lose the quality control that’s critically important to us.”

The company is contemplating an initial public offering in the U.S. for later this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

“Partners always like to see their return of investment, so down the road, we will entertain at some point, either selling or going public,” Drexler said. “Nothing is imminent and in the near future for us.”

The New York-based company, which has been selling items at Lane Crawford’s upscale department stores in Hong Kong and China, will open a women’s collection store and a men’s store in the Central financial district tomorrow.

The company is also exploring opportunities in China, Drexler said.

J. Crew opened three stores in the U.K. last year and is planning one more in the British capital this year and about four new ones in Canada.

By Billy Chan, Stephanie Wong; Editors: Stephanie Wong, Frank Longid