By  on December 5, 1994

NEW YORK -- Jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane is expected to regain the retail rights to his name, perhaps as early as this week.

Ciro Inc., operating under a Chapter 11 trustee, currently owns the Lane retail rights and operates five Kenneth Jay Lane stores, including a Fifth Avenue location in New York, but owes the designer roughly $500,000.

Lane filed a motion in bankruptcy court last week asking the cash-strapped Ciro to either pay him the overdue amount or give up the license. Both the designer and an attorney close to the case said last week they expect Ciro to give up the license.

Alan Cohen, the Chapter 11 trustee, said Friday he will meet with Lane today in hopes of reaching an agreement prior to Lane's Dec. 8 hearing. Cohen refused to speculate on the outcome of the hearing.

Cohen's job as trustee is to maximize the payout to creditors. He said he will attempt a sale of the business, but did not rule out liquidation.

Creditors, naturally, are hoping the business is sold. "This business has been profitable for 75 years until very recently, and there's no reason it can't be run profitably again," said Michael Deutsch, counsel to the Ciro committee of unsecured creditors.

At the same time, Lane is busy attempting to put together a retail deal of his own. He said Friday he was talking with two companies about buying the retail rights and growing the business.

If Lane is successful in regaining the retail rights to the Kenneth Jay Lane name, the fate of the five Lane stores would still be up in the air, the designer said.

"I would certainly like to have a store in New York, but the rent at the current Fifth Avenue location will soon be $1 million a year, and that is too high for a jewelry store," he said. "The store is also too big."

Lane's stores have been hurt in the past year by a lack of Kenneth Jay Lane merchandise. "They haven't had the money to buy things from me," Lane noted.

"I want my stores to represent me, and they haven't recently," Lane added. "My counter at Saks Fifth Avenue has represented me well, but my own stores haven't. I hope getting my name back and signing my own deal will change that."  - Fairchild News Service

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