By and  on November 30, 2007

The Liz Claiborne brand is shuttering its wholesale business in Germany, Sweden and Russia.

The decision to concentrate on business in the U.S. and more established markets abroad, like France, Belgium and Iberia, follows $4.99 billion Liz Claiborne Inc.'s trend of focusing on its power brands while putting its smaller labels up for sale.

"The Liz Claiborne brand was just starting to be rolled out in Germany, Sweden and Russia when the decision was made to concentrate on and deepen our presence in the markets where the brand is strongest (Iberia, France and Belgium) rather than enter new ones," confirmed a Claiborne spokeswoman. "It is a matter of prioritization and optimizing growth."

According to a source close to Claiborne's European operations, it was a strategic decision. "Liz Claiborne has decided to concentrate on the U.S.," the source said. "That's where the focus is, and so they've moved to scale back their European activities, or, as it's turned out, to close them down."

Another source attributed the move to shut down in Germany, Sweden and Russia to "massive decreases in the U.S." "We didn't think we'd be affected, as we had all the big department stores in Germany, and our customers in Russia couldn't believe it," the source said. "They were really disappointed after all the efforts made in the last two years."

This was Claiborne's third attempt to build a business in the affected countries, the most recent effort only two years in.

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