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Julio International Inc. To Spring Global Expansion From Puerto Rico


April 5, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Mexico-based women’s clothing retailer Julio International Inc., is using Puerto Rico’s market as a springboard for an international expansion that calls for stores in the U.S. and Europe.

At an investment of $850,000, Julio International Inc. opened its first outside-México boutique, Julio, in Plaza Las Americas last November. With 20 employees, the 4,000-square-foot spacious store features women’s fashions, especially for career women.

"Our first step is Puerto Rico because it is such a great market for Latin women. Then we will open in Florida," said Gilles Denaes, director of international operations and in charge of the expansion. "We already know what Mexican women like. Now we are moving on to other Latin markets in the U.S., including Texas and California. In two or three years we will start our expansion in Europe."

When asked why not open in neighboring South American countries, he said it was because of lack of economic stability. In terms of expanding in Puerto Rico, he said, time will tell. "Depending on the market requirements, we would open other stores probably in Ponce and Mayaguez," he added.

One of the largest locally owned retailers in Mexico, family-owned Julio International Inc. has more than 50 stores, 10 franchised stores, and seven boutiques inside department stores such as Palacio de Hierro, very popular in Mexico, noted Denaes. The company also owns Julio’s clothing manufacturing operation in Mexico. In all, the company employs 400 people.

Five months after opening in Puerto Rico, Denaes said, sales are good, " . . .although we haven’t been here enough time to compare." Julio’s markets three main lines: Collection, Petite, and Studio. The Collection line targets a more classic and mature woman, said Denaes. Studio merchandise is for a younger, fashion-oriented customer, while the petite is a combination of Julio’s other lines, altered for smaller women.

"We are about a balance of price and quality for women who have both professional and social activities," said Denaes, adding that fabrics used are all brought from Italy, Spain, and France. Nevertheless, Julio is a mid-price retailer. A three-piece suit, on average, costs about $150 to $170. Julio also has shoes, bags, belts, accessories, and intimates.

Julio will also launch its promotions campaign this month with an in-store fashion show, direct mail, and billboards leading to Mother’s Day. The company selected Sajo & Garcia as its public relations agency.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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