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Troubled NexCen Relocating

NexCen Brands Inc. is moving downtown.

NEW YORK — NexCen Brands Inc. is moving downtown.

Sources familiar with the troubled brand-management firm said it will be vacating its offices at 1330 Avenue of the Americas at 54th Street here, where president and chief executive officer Robert D’Loren has had his offices since his days at UCC Capital and CAK. The company is expected to relocate to 261 Fifth Avenue, headquarters of NexCen Home Studios, where NexCen’s Waverly home brand, believed to be up for sale, has its headquarters.

While the owner of Bill Blass, The Athlete’s Foot and numerous other trademarks is shifting to the FlatIron District, it will seek a subtenant to take over the lease in its current location.

The move will lengthen D’Loren’s daily commute as he purchased his pied-à-terre, a Blass-decorated condo, in part for its two-block proximity to the 54th Street office, one source said.

The company said Friday that Charles Zona, executive vice president for brand management and licensing, is stepping down. Market sources said Joseph DeMuro, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, is also on his way out. NexCen didn’t return calls seeking comment about DeMuro.

Also on Friday, NexCen confirmed a WWD report that the company’s board has engaged N M Rothschild & Sons Ltd. to explore strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of one or more of its businesses. Bill Blass and the Waverly home business are understood to be up for sale.

The cash-strapped firm also said it has reduced its headquarters’ head count by 25 percent. Neither officials at the company nor its spokeswoman could be reached for specifics. Market sources said headquarters houses about 25 company employees, while another 50 employees work at the Bill Blass and Waverly operations. In total, about six were let go from headquarters staff.

NexCen said the streamlining of “organizational and administrative expenses” will reduce cash outlays by $3 million on an annualized basis.

“These actions streamline the company and allow us to operate more cost-effectively,” said D’Loren. “We will remain committed to providing our franchisees, licensees and business partners with the highest level of service.”

NexCen management also said Friday that discussions are continuing with its lender, BTMU Capital Corp., regarding possible amendments to its bank credit facility as well as with other potential lenders regarding additional financing.

This story first appeared in the June 2, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Rick Platt, president of NexCen Home Studios, which includes the Waverly, Bill Blass Home and Gramercy brands, will now oversee Bill Blass, the company said.

Chris Dull, president of NexCen Franchise Management, will continue to oversee the franchise businesses, which include The Athlete’s Foot.

Additionally, a lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court Wednesday against the company, D’Loren, its former chief financial officer David Meister and chairman David S. Oros by Mark Gray seeking class-action status on behalf of purchasers of NexCen stock between May 10, 2007 and May 19, 2008. It was on the latter date that the company expressed doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern and said the same questions may have existed when it filed its 2007 annual report.

NexCen’s stock closed Friday at 66 cents. Shares of the firm traded as high as $13.18 in June of last year.