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Will London be a good fit for J Crew?

Thursday, 7 Nov 2013 | 1:53 AM ET
Drexler: London J.Crew most important in a while
Wednesday, 6 Nov 2013 | 3:00 PM ET
CNBC's Karen Tso talked with Mickey Drexler, chairman and CEO of J.Crew Group, at the new J.Crew flagship store that opens in London this Friday morning.

U.S. retailer J. Crew is poised to make its first international debut on Friday, opening a flagship store on central London's high-end shopping thoroughfare Regent Street and stepping into a row about prices.

Ahead of the opening, the retailer's chief executive Mickey Drexler told CNBC the new store was arguably the most important it has opened in a while and would determine whether the brand expanded worldwide.

"It's the first time we're going oversees and it's an indication of how we'll be received in the rest of Europe and perhaps internationally because Regent's Street is a huge international shopping street," he said.

"London for us is like New York in a large way. It feels the same, it's very inspirational and a great city, world class. And as we looked at where we go first, London seemed to be an easy choice."

The investment into a new store did not mean that the group saw the wider economic environment improving necessarily, he added, but that the London store had been planned for a number of years.

J Crew's foray into the London retail sector has not been without controversy, however. An article by The Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday reported that the retailer's new London store has "largely swapped pound signs for dollar signs," bumping prices nearly 60 percent higher than in the U.S.

(Read more: Retailers want to make 'showrooming' a no show)

Drexler said he found it "a little stunning" that the brand is being called out on raising prices, as it's typical across all types of business to raise prices overseas, where the cost of doing business is higher.

"There's nothing to explain," he said. "When has it been that prices in the U.K. for American products haven't been higher?"

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt

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