With young rocker-types, actresses, and general trendsetters seen spotted with its products, this late 20-something company is hardly showing its age. Dooney & Bourke makes high-end handbags and accessories, mostly for women but also for men. They're sold in department stores (such as Macy's and Nordstrom), online, and by catalog. The company operates about 10 of its own stores internationally, including seven locations in the US and a flagship shop in Manhattan. It boasts about 20 US outlets. Best-known for its distinctive initial-covered purses, Dooney & Bourke also makes cell phone and iPod cases, as well as jewelry, luggage, apparel, shoes, totes, wallets, and assorted accessories.
With its eye on rivals the likes of Coach, which is heading up international expansion, Dooney & Bourke has kept its namesake stores mostly on US turf. In recent years the manufacturer and retailer has concentrated on expanding its stores footprint by adding more outlets to its roster. The move, to entice those hit by the economic downturn to continue to acquire Dooney & Bourke's high-end products, has allowed the company to ride out the recession and fuel the development of new product debuts.
Dooney & Bourke has dipped its toes in international waters, as well, but that's the extent of its global expansion for now. Before the credit crunch hit, the upscale handbag maker made plans to open five to 10 stores in Asia by 2012, citing a focus on Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia. Since its 2008 announcement, the company scrapped those plans to focus on outlets in the US.
Dooney & Bourke was founded in 1975 by Peter Dooney and Frederic Bourke as a belt and suspender line. In 1985 they entered the handbag business. In July 2009 a federal jury found co-founder Bourke guilty of conspiracy for his role in an alleged scheme to bribe Azerbaijan government officials, a matter unrelated to Dooney & Bourke's business. He was sentenced in the fall to a year and a day in prison. – less