Aronsson on the Go: Exits as Oscar’s CEO, On to Marc Jacobs?

NEW YORK — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has raided Oscar de la Renta Ltd. of its chief executive officer, who is believed to be headed to the...

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"That is something that if it were or were not true, it isn’t the kind of thing I would talk about," said Aronsson, who, despite the emotional difficulties of his announcement Monday, is said to remain on very good terms with de la Renta.

Aronsson also did not hesitate to champion de la Renta’s point of view regarding his financial options, even the rejection of capital that could have financed new expansions, considering the company has never been better positioned than it is now to avail itself of such opportunities, he said.

"It really depends at this point on Oscar’s objectives," Aronsson said. "It doesn’t need to happen.

"Everything we’ve done, from paying off debt to launching new initiatives, has been self-financed," he said. "I came into this business with a corporate law and securities law background. I used to write risk factors for a living and I was very aware of the rewards of going public, but also the pitfalls. I can tell you that the issue of an acquisition or an offering was not a source of frustration. In fact, it was the contrary."

According to de la Renta, the company is poised for growth this year with the addition of the bridal license — it debuts officially at retail this month and is expected to bring in approximately $10 million in the first few years, according to industry estimates. The home furnishings collection with Century Furniture Industries debuted at the October furniture market in High Point, N.C. This past summer, the company also opened a showroom in Düsseldorf, Germany, to distribute shoes and accessories in Switzerland, Austria and Germany before expanding throughout the rest of Europe. As reported, de la Renta also plans to renovate and expand its 550 Seventh Avenue headquarters this year. The space will be updated to match the company’s retail concept — de la Renta is currently scouting real estate for his first freestanding store. De la Renta has said he is targeting the Upper Sixties and Seventies on Madison Avenue in New York, as well as a potential spot in Las Vegas.

De la Renta has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, stocking the company with a cast of young and socially dexterous employees, such as the designer’s stepdaughter, Eliza Reed Bolen, vice president of licensing; Alexandra Hamilton, vice president of communications and public relations, and Adam Lippes, a vice president and creative director who, as reported, is reducing his role at the company to focus on the development of his own fashion collection. While the staff and de la Renta’s recent collections have offered a renewed air of vitality to one of the longest running success stories on Seventh Avenue, Aronsson has also made efforts to make management and operations tighter and more efficient at the company and to improve customer service, all of which has had an obvious affect on the bottom line: "Sales are the most profitable they’ve ever been, quality is consistently superlative, deliveries are timely and customers are happy," said Aronsson, who has, during his residence in the garment district, developed a language that blends the idioms of Seventh Avenue with those of more contemporary corporate American boostering.
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