Warby Parker to Open 25 Stores This Year, Co-CEO Says

January 23, 2017

Warby Parker plans to open at least 25 retail locations this year, a rare brick-and-mortar expansion amid store closures at several chains.

The eyeglasses seller said it would open stores in Miami, Los Angeles and other cities, bringing its total store count to about 70 this year. The stores will range in size and include free-standing as well as mall locations. The next one is slated to open in Philadelphia on Jan. 28.

“I don’t think retail is dead. Mediocre retail experiences are dead,” said Neil Blumenthal,Warby Parker co-founder and co-chief executive. “While e-commerce has been growing, the majority of retail still happens within four walls.”

The openings come as many traditional retailers are shrinking their footprints. Macy’sInc., Sears Holdings Corp., and Limited Stores LLC are among several companies that announced plans this month to close dozens of stores because of weak sales. Some are now using savings from store closures to increase efforts to capture more e-commerce spending.

Warby Parker, which started seven years ago and opened its first store in 2013, is among a handful of online brands that have been expanding into the brick-and-mortar space to boost visibility and sales. Brands are also increasingly avoiding department stores and other middlemen, and marketing products directly to consumers.

“We know more about our customers and can tailor the experience much better than a traditional retailer which doesn’t know as much about its customers and might be selling another brand’s products,” said Mr. Blumenthal.

Starting as an e-commerce business offers some advantages. Warby Parker, for example, leverages data on its online customers to determine store locations and customize the in-store experience. Its locations feature books, vintage arcade games and photo booths, and salespeople use tablets to pull up customer purchase history, including which styles they’ve saved online.

Warby Parker declined to disclose revenue figures or confirm whether it is profitable. Its last funding round in April 2015 valued it at more than $1 billion. At that time, the company wasn’t profitable.