Blog: Leonie BarrieLiz goes designer

Leonie Barrie | 8 May 2007

Promising to “radically address” the firm’s cost structure and invest in new capabilities after last week’s shock 66% slump in first-quarter profits, Liz Claiborne’s chief executive William McComb was expected to lay out details of his strategy at a July investment meeting. However, he has instead surprised observers with the speed of his latest move: a first tentative step into the luxury market by buying a 50% stake in the name and trademark of Narciso Rodriguez.

It’s a bold decision, and if it succeeds will probably be the first time a mainstream clothing company has taken on the niche luxury designer market and won. Liz Claiborne is best known for its Juicy Couture, Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman clothing labels, but hopes to license the Narciso Rodriguez brand and extend it into accessories as well as increased international distribution.

Part of the company’s current woes are due to consolidating department stores increasingly promoting their own private labels as they search for a degree of exclusivity to lure fickle consumers. So while obviously keen to grow the Narciso Rodriguez brand, Liz Claiborne is more aware than most of the dangers of over-exposure.

Liz Claiborne acquires half of Narciso Rodriguez


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