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Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Brooks Brothers
to open first isle
store in Waikele

The retail clothing chain will
debut April 27 in the former
Bugle Boy site

By Tim Ruel

Brooks Brothers, a 182-year-old mainland retail clothing chain, plans to open its first store in Hawaii at the Waikele Premium Outlets on April 27.

The company-run factory outlet will take up 5,615 square feet of leased space formerly occupied by sportswear retailer Bugle Boy, which left in January.

"That's a pretty good size for an outlet store," said retail analyst and real estate agent Stephany Sofos, who was not involved in the lease.

Brooks Brothers, based in New York, operates 80 retail and 72 factory stores nationwide and sells merchandise in 70 locations in Japan, five in Hong Kong and and two in Taiwan.

"I know that Hawaii's always been on the radar screen," said Brooks Brothers spokeswoman Geri Corrigan. The company initially filed a business registration with the state Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs in 1988.

"It's going to be a wonderful addition to the shopping center," said Michele Rothstein, spokeswoman for mall owner Roseland, N.J.-based Chelsea GCA Realty Inc.

Other newly opened stores at Waikele Premium Outlets include Old Navy and women's Italian fashion retailer MaxMara.

Sofos said she thinks Brooks Brothers will do well with the location and probably look to open other stores. "Where they want to be is Ala Moana, like everyone else," she said.

The company probably picked Hawaii because of Brooks Brothers' popularity with Asian tourists, who are more steady shoppers, she said. "You have a more controlled environment. You know that people are going to be coming," especially men who don't ordinarily shop for clothing as much as women but tend to shop more when on vacation, Sofos said.

The company's main competitors in Waikele Premium Outlets would be retailers Bass and Geoffrey Beene, Sofos said.

Brooks Brothers was founded by Henry Sands Brooks in 1818 as H. & D.H. Brooks & Co. in New York City. In 1850, Brooks' two sons took over and established the name Brooks Brothers. The company's trademark became the symbol of the fabled golden fleece. The company was bought by a Washington, D.C.-based specialty store chain in 1946 and opened its first Japanese stores in 1979.

In 1988, Brooks Brothers was purchased by its current owner, London-based retail store operator Marks & Spencer plc. In the same year, the publicly traded company bought Kings Super Markets in the United States. It also owns retail outlets in the Middle East. In 1997, the company formed a franchise agreement to open stores throughout Southeast Asia.

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