Rouge Duty Free is set for a soft opening of its new flagship in St. Croix at the end of this month. Located in an historic mansion in the heart of Christiansted’s business district, Rouge Maison will house 2,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, an al fresco Rouge Bistro out back, as well as a Rouge Market House, selling liquor, champagne, wines, imported sweets, and more.
The first phase of the retail, featuring Luxury Fragrance & Beauty and Liquor & Champagne, is opening in July. According to Raymond Kattoura, whose company Duty Free & Travel Retail Group Inc. helps operate the business for Rouge Duty Free, they will soon add in Designer Sunglasses, and are planning to have the personalized counters, including Leather goods by Furla Italy, and the Bistro ready before the Fall.
Already open for the past few months, Rouge also operates a small boutique luxury Airbnb on the second floor of the location. The four-suite hotel overlooks both its Terrassa on one side and historic Company Street on the other side, says Kattoura.
Rouge Maison is the company’s third location in the U.S. Virgin Islands, following its Beauty store in St. Thomas and the opening of its first St. Croix flagship in December 2020 in the Orange Grove Plaza in Christiansted. A full-fledged beauty shop, the original St. Croix store also features two anchors, Mont Blanc and a Furla Italy shop –in-shop, as well as a treatment spa cabin.
Kattoura is extremely excited about the stores in St. Croix, and is already planning additional expansion with a new location to cover the Frederiksted area.
“Our target has always been the local market as well as the seasonal visitors, and we have seen tremendous response from the local community. The first St. Croix Rouge store reached its first year annual budget within the first four months of opening and by the end of the first year was ranking among our top three stores in the Caribbean,” he said.
Boosting local customer engagement spurs sales
Despite opening the store in the middle of a pandemic, Rouge depended on boosted radio campaigns, print ads, social media and continuous events to engage the local population.
St. Croix is also in the midst of large-scale investment, development and restoration, especially in the historic district where the new Maison is located, and new restaurants and hotels have opened.
The airport was also remodeled and added more flights, and the major cruise companies announced a huge increase of ship visits to the Island for 2023, during the last Sea Trade Cruise Convention.
This development bodes well for the opening of the Rouge Maison.
“We are super excited with our project. The mansion style building, a historical site, with its distinctive colored Spanish tile floor, will be one of the most beautiful and special boutiques in the Caribbean. The store will lead to our backyard Bistro, with fountains and lush greens, highlighted with a restored Dutch Oven,” said Kattoura.
“Our clientele, young lawyers, bankers and businessmen, have stressed to us the need for a modern quiet Café where they can invite a client, or even stop by after work for a glass of rosé or a beer; a real high-end liquor store, where they can find a good variety of product at travel retail prices; high- end gift items, as well as the latest from the top beauty and fragrance houses, such as Chanel, Lancôme, Gucci etc. This is what we plan to deliver.”
More Caribbean expansion underway
Rouge Duty Free currently operates 14 locations throughout the Caribbean, almost half way to its stated goal of reaching some 30 shops within the next five years.
In addition to the St. Croix locations, the company is renovating some existing stores and opening in several new locations.
In Grenada, where Rouge is the leading luxury retailer on the island with six locations, including at the famed Port Louis mega-yacht marina, the company is currently remodeling its store at Spiceland Mall, scheduled for reopening before the end of July.
Rouge also has new plans for its stores at the Maurice Bishop International Airport, where it is the largest retail operator. Rouge is now opening a second stand-alone Kiosk-style shop, that will be used to highlight individual monobands, explains Kattoura.
“The new Grenada airport kiosk will be offered to the suppliers on a monthly basis. The first brand to open in this location will be Bottega starting August 1, 2022.
“The kiosk is in an excellent location in the heart of the waiting and seating area next to Gate 5, where American Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Condor, and Air Canada board.”
Rouge expansion in 2022 is also reaching the Western Caribbean in the Mexican Riviera in Quintana Roo.
“We will open our first Super Store in Tulum,” explains Kattoura.
“Tulum is reigning at this moment on the top of most in-demand destination from all over the world. The store will encompass the spirit of Tulum, in design and feel. Rouge will be the first and only perfumery in the city of Tulum, at Alde Zama, the archeological area.”