NEW YORK — Vera Wang’s $300 million business at retail may have its string of suitors, but the privately held, family-owned company said no deals are imminent.
During an interview last week with the company’s senior management team, Susan Sokol, who joined the brand as president last year, said, “Rumors like that go hand-in-hand when you have a luxury brand growing as fast and furious as ours is.”
But with an invigorated management team calling the shots, a new dress line in stores for spring, an enhanced ready-to-wear collection, three overseas bridal shops opening next month and licensing deals in the works, the designer and her team have heard their share of interested pitches.
The 15-year-old company is potentially interested in building sales through a joint venture and licensing opportunities for, perhaps, a diffusion sportswear collection, Sokol said. Wang’s offices receive calls “daily” from interested manufacturers, but nothing has come to fruition.
“We always pay attention to them, but there are no concrete conversations going on now,” Sokol said.
She did “want to drive home the point” that the growth the brand is experiencing requires that its executives look at other opportunities and that “growth requires financing.”
For example, with a successful Madison Avenue store that generates $15 million in annual retail sales, the company would be “remiss” not to look at that as a rollout plan that can be taken to other markets such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, Sokol said.
“That is something that would require outside investors or we could possibly do it ourselves,” Sokol said.
The company has realigned its business into two divisions. Sokol focuses on the designer’s apparel business, which generates $100 million at retail, and Laura Lee Miller, executive vice president, oversees its licensing business, which accounts for $200 million at retail. Suzanne Zikas, senior vice president of sales, is another important part of the team.
This year, bridal should account for 40 percent of the $100 million apparel business, rtw should weigh in at 27 percent, the new dress division should make up 18 percent and the bridesmaid business should be 15 percent.
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