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Schulman, Mellon to Exit Jimmy Choo

Top execs to leave in a few months.

LONDON — In what marks the end of an era, Tamara Mellon has severed her ties with Jimmy Choo, the luxury brand that she founded in 1996 along with the designer Mr. Jimmy Choo. In a separate development, Joshua Schulman, the company’s chief executive, has also announced his resignation.

Their departures follow Labelux Group’s acquisition of the company in May.

Labelux made an official announcement on Sunday.

Mellon, whose title was founder and chief creative officer, and Schulman are both leaving the company “to pursue independent careers” Labelux said.

“It’s always a surprise when people resign, but you digest the news and then see how you can build a future,” said Reinhard Mieck, Labelux’s chief executive in an interview Sunday. “But there are no negative feelings. We’re all very positive and there won’t be a change in strategic direction at Jimmy Choo.”

Mellon will leave the company at the end of this month, while Schulman will remain for “a transition period” into 2012.

Mieck said the current creative directors, Sandra Choi and Simon Holloway, will continue in their roles. He added the company had no plans to replace Mellon as chief creative officer. “The creative side of the company is extremely strong and the design direction will continue,” said Mieck. The company plans to name a new chief executive over the next couple of weeks. “From a management point of view, there won’t be any significant disruptions,” said Mieck. “We acquired the company because of its potential and we believe it has a very exciting future.” Mieck confirmed that Schulman and Mellon will no longer hold any shares in the company.

In a separate interview, Schulman called his departure amicable. “I’m approaching a five year milestone and it was the right time to hand over to the next generation of Jimmy Choo management,” he said.

During the interview, Schulman took pains to emphasize that his and Mellon’s resignations are “independent of each other. We’re not going off together [to pursue a new project],” he said. As for his own future plans, Schulman said: “ I have nothing to announce now. I’m going to take my time to explore new opportunities. I’ll be working with the Jimmy Choo team in the meantime and helping to ensure an orderly transition.” Schulman joined Jimmy Choo in 2007, after the company was acquired by TowerBrook Capital LLP. He had previously been president of Kenneth Cole New York.

Of his achievements during his five years at the brand, Schulman said he is proud of “taking Jimmy Choo from a niche business to a global luxury brand. We increased store count from 65 to 130 stores, entered new categories including fragrance, men’s shoes, launched 24:7 [a capsule accessories collection] and took control of the Japanese and Hong Kong businesses,” he said. “I really love this company, my experience has been amazing and I’ll enjoy cheering on the team from afar.”

Although Schulman declined to comment on sales projections for 2011, industry sources said sales will reach 220 million pounds, or $353.7 million, this year.

Labelux Group, which also counts Bally, Zagliani and Derek Lam among its holdings, acquired Jimmy Choo in May in a deal that valued the company at 549 million pounds, or $889.4 million.

The acquisition marked the third owner for the brand in the past ten years — Labelux acquired Jimmy Choo and management control of the company from TowerBrook Capital LLP, a private equity firm. Prior to that, private equity groups Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd and Lion Capital had at separate points acquired the label.

After Labelux acquired the brand, Mellon told WWD she believed: “Jimmy Choo has found the right home now. Labelux has a completely different vision to private equity — brand building versus financial engineering,” she said.

When the acquisition was announced, Mieck had said he sees Labelux “as long-term strategic investors” in the label. “Joshua, Tamara and the management are going to need to deal with us for a very long time. We are thinking about strategies today that will take us beyond this generation to the one after that,” Mieck said at the time.

In the fifteen years since Mellon founded the brand, Jimmy Choo has evolved from a luxury footwear company to encompass handbags, small leather goods, sunglasses, eyewear and fragrance. Under Mellon’s direction, the brand has also collaborated with H&M on a high street collection and with Ugg Australia and Hunter wellingtons on boot collections. This fall, the label added a men’s collection to its portfolio.