By and  on April 20, 2009

In two private meetings with vendors at Lord & Taylor’s flagship store Friday — an unprecedented tactic for the privately held chain — top officials outlined the state of the business and some changes afoot. They were apparently forthcoming in a way that swayed several vendors to feel more positive about the store.

A Liz Claiborne spokeswoman said, “We are comfortable doing business with L&T,” and added Lord & Taylor will soon be carrying the Liz Claiborne New York brand again. One executive, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the key messages from L&T officials were that the store had plenty of cash and other resources, including real estate assets and “encouraging plans.” Another apparel executive, whose company conducted business with Lord & Taylor until this year, said: “There’s been a lot of nervousness and concern in the market over whether Lord & Taylor was going to be able to pay their bills. Our factor Milberg is having a tough time with them.”

However, another apparel executive said, “They wanted people to know what’s going on and create some comfort level in the marketplace and show people they are doing the right things to remedy this down-market such as expense controls, changes in merchandising direction and the new management group. As a result, people walked out of the meeting feeling much more comfortable and bullish about business, and believe Lord & Taylor is really focused with the new team.”

Lord & Taylor declined to comment.

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