Dunhill Doubles Down on U.S.




By Sally Shin, Producer

NEW YORK ( CNBC) - After years of aggressive expansion in Asia, Dunhill is gambling big on the U.S. market.

London's high-end men's retailer recently opened its second store in the U.S. on Vegas' sunset strip. It plans to open at least three more over the next 12 months.

"We, in the last six years, have focused where the fish are for us, and that was predominately in Asia, that's what we went out to focus on. We now have the need to focus on the west, and that is the U.S.," Dunhill CEO Christopher Colfer tells CNBC. "We haven't been to your backyard, but we are coming."

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So, why now?

For one, Europe's sovereign debt crisis has swayed Dunhill's focus away from its domestic market, prompting it to venture to untapped regions. And while the Asia is a top priority in terms of expansion, Colfer says the timing is now for the U.S. to get its taste of London's High Street.

"We have ample time to do it," he says. "Because the American market is somewhat saturated with the same things for a long period of time, and I think there is great opportunity for newness here."

Also high-end luxury spending in the U.S. has outpaced the broader benchmark in 2012. "At the luxury spending level, we continue to see spending, we aren't seeing slowing, spending at the luxury level is still happening," says Robert Burke, retail consultant at Robert Burke & Associates.

This is especially true in the menswear sector as men cough up more cash for their clothing and wear more formal attire on the job. The global luxury menswear market is growing at about 14 percent a year, or nearly double the pace of luxury women's wear, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.

Dunhill, however, has its work cutout for them. Although its Madison Avenue store has been open since the 1950's, the iconic brand has little exposure in the domestic market. It will have to compete with companies like Brioni, Ermenegildo Zegna and Salvatore Ferragamo, which are already established in the U.S.