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AS Cooper opens new stores and grows staff

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Moving in: AS Cooper staff prepare the new Vineyard Vines store, to open in the company’s former children’s store on Front Street (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Long-established AS Cooper is to launch a total of three new stores — and create jobs.

The company is to open a store dedicated to lifestyle clothing brand Vineyard Vines, a sponsor of the America’s Cup, in its former children’s shop on Front Street on Saturday.

And its Astwood Dickinson jewellery arm is to set up shop at the Hamilton Princess, which will include an area dedicated to America’s Cup merchandise.

Somers Cooper, managing director of AS Cooper, said the new ventures would create four full-time jobs, as well up to four part-time posts.

He added: “The children’s space was in dire need of renovation anyway. It’s a very old store and the one we were least proud of.

“We had an opportunity with Vineyard Vines on a number of fronts. We’ve had a lot of success since we started carrying the brand and it’s gone from strength to strength.

“It fits really well and it has appeal to a big cross-section of people.

“It’s a very preppy New England brand, but they have struck a chord in America and now have about 80 stores in the US and we were their first foray outside the United States.

“It’s quite an honour and we’re really pleased that they had the confidence and faith that we could execute it properly.”

Mr Cooper added: “We are transferring a number of staff to Vineyard Vines, but we are probably creating two new full-time positions and there will be another three or four part-time positions.”

He said that the opportunity to tie up with the Hamilton Princess, the official hotel of the America’s Cup, was too good a chance to pass up.

Mr Cooper said: “Our business had shrunk throughout the recession and we feel the economy has bottomed out.

“With the America’s Cup coming, we thought we would take advantage of that time to increase our footprint and hopefully increase the business.”

Mr Cooper said: “We definitely have a positive view of the future — the owners of the Hamilton Princess have demonstrated that and we wanted to be a part of it.”

He added: “Our whole concept there is we have created a small Astwood Dickinson boutique selling fine jewellery and watches.

“It’s kind of like two stores joined, with an America’s Cup store as well.

“With the hotel being the official hotel of the America’s Cup, we thought it would be fitting to have an America’s Cup store right there.”

Mr Cooper said the AC section would sell not only the firm’s own products, but also that of local licensees, who have been authorised to create America’s Cup-branded goods.

Last year, the firm moved its flagship Astwood Dickinson store, which has won the right to sell Bremont watches, the official America’s Cup timepieces, to a new location opposite the Ferry Terminal in Hamilton.

Mr Cooper said: “We have become the number one dealer in the world for Bremont.

“That store was our first phase and a sign of our confidence. Once we learned Bermuda was going to host the America’s Cup, we decided that would be a game changer for the island.”

He added that the focus of Front Street had moved west with the opening of new office blocks along Pitts Bay Road.

Mr Cooper said: “There are a lot more people in offices to the west of the shops and with the cruise ship port primarily being Dockyard, most of the footfall is from the ferries and the terminal is right across the street.”

Taking stock:(L to R) Alex Lemke, Brady Cordeiro and Chelsea Cooke unpack the Vineyard Vines range at the brand's new store on Front Street. Alex Lemke, Brady Cordeiro and Chelsea Cooke. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Work in progress: AS Cooper's new Vineyard Vines store in the final stages of preparation before the grand opening (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Pretty in pink: The exterior of the new Vineyard Vines store in the former AS Cooper children's shop on Front Street(Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Whale of a time: the Vineyard Vines logo seen as a new store dedicated to the US brand prepares to open on Front Street (Photograph by Akil Simmons)