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NEW YORK-On the construction site of the new Chanel boutique, jackhammers bring a discordant note to the usual hum of luxury shopping along 57th Street. But a few doors down, inside Chanel's headquarters, Joel Herman sits unruffled in his new post as VP of the retail division.

By hiring Mr. Herman to run its growing chain of stores in the U.S., Chanel has returned the department store veteran to his preferred selling milieu: the high end.

"Once you have a taste of luxury goods, it's a very exciting area to deal with," said Mr. Herman, 42, a longtime Bamberger's executive and Neiman Marcus veteran.

He will focus on improving customer service at 11 company boutiques that showcase the designer's clothing, accessories and fragrance lines. Two stores, in Aspen, Colo., and in Bal Harbour, Fla., will open in the next few months. The more spacious Manhattan boutique opens late next year.

The privately held Chanel rarely releases financial information. Analysts estimate the company's sales at more than $450 million. The company's ads are created in-house and by the Arnell Group, while media buying is done by DDB Needham Worldwide.

Ms. Kamen is a reporter for Crain's New York Business.

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