In recent months, three top executives have resigned, key department stores have stopped carrying the brand and a number of licensing agreements have been put on hold. In addition, Esprit will cease U.S. distribution of Collection women's suits and career clothes, as well as the entire men's wear line.
Carmine Porcelli, director of Esprit U.S.; Jack Schwefel, executive vice president of North American retail, and Derong Yang, global image director, have all resigned.
"It was time for me to move on," said Porcelli, a 30-year veteran of the fashion industry. Porcelli joined Esprit in February 2004 as director of licensing and was named to his most recent post in August 2004. Earlier he was managing director of Bonjour, prior to which he was the licensing director at Oscar de la Renta, managing director at Halston International and a consultant at Bill Blass. Porcelli said he has no immediate plans and that he "officially left" Esprit in July.
Schwefel declined comment and Yang couldn't be reached.
Esprit has struggled lately in the U.S. market, both on the wholesale and retail fronts. After almost disappearing entirely from the American market, Esprit opened three freestanding boutiques in New York in the past year selling women's, men's, edc juniors and accessories. However, projected sales at the stores, according to a source close to the company, are 30 to 75 percent lower than had been anticipated. The source went on to say that roughly 20 Esprit employees based in the U.S. are expected to be laid off this week.
However, Andreas Adenauer, president of Esprit North America, denied the claim the employees will be laid off and said the changes within the company are due in part to a reorganization in structure which would allow the company to build up brand recognition in the U.S. Adenauer said the company is learning what works in the U.S. market and what doesn't.
"Some of our retail stores were underplanned. We overdid the division mix from baby to sport in both women's and mens'," he said. "We overstretched the consumer. But we're learning and we're going on, not aggressively, but wisely."
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