"We will certainly miss Jeff and we wish him the best of luck," de la Renta said on Monday. "At this point we are not planning on naming a successor. We have a great team and we ended the year on a financially strong foot — and as one of the top four resources at Bergdorf Goodman and as the best-selling American designer at Saks Fifth Avenue."
Since de la Renta stepped down as Balmain’s couturier in July, the designer said he has more time to devote to his namesake company. This is a primary reason for not filling the position, de la Renta said.
At de la Renta, Aronsson has developed a track record for attracting key talent, as well as building the designer’s business in emerging markets in Asia and Latin America, which are both viewed as important areas of growth for Jacobs, a business with sales estimated at more that $50 million through its collection, Marc by Marc Jacobs and retail operations. Marc Jacobs is continuing its retail expansion in Asia, with new collection stores at the Landmark in Hong Kong and the Regent in Taipei, a Marc by Marc Jacobs store in Hong Kong’s Pacific Place and explorations taking place in Beijing and Shanghai.
His legal background has also proven to be an asset to de la Renta, as Aronsson’s contractual skills have resulted in better control over existing licensed products, as well as the recent introduction of three categories: bridal, intimates and furniture. De la Renta has about 15 licenses now, down from 31 when Aronsson joined the firm nine years ago, as de la Renta’s former partner, Gerald Shaw, with whom he acquired the company from Shaw’s father, Ben, in 1965, was winding down his involvement. The company’s long-standing debts, which once weighed upon its future prospects, have since been eliminated, and sales of de la Renta’s collection business are now estimated at $50 million a year, plus an additional $600 million at retail with licensed goods.
All of this, as many of de la Renta’s colleagues have observed, appeared to be a preamble for de la Renta’s next big stage, either cleaning up the company’s financials to prepare for an initial public offering or making it a more lucrative target for acquisition by a luxury conglomerate, like LVMH or Gucci Group. But de la Renta himself has resisted ceding control of the firm, not just in terms of an acquisition, but of giving up any percentage of control, according to insiders. This might have grown into a frustrating circumstance for its chief executive. One source said Aronsson approached the designer in the past year with his own offer to buy out the company, but that he was refused.