Sweden-based Gant AB has tapped David Arbuthnot as the new chief executive officer of Gant USA, effective Oct. 1. Current Gant USA ceo Ari Hoffman will become ceo of Gant Latin America on that date.
Hoffman has served as ceo of Gant USA since 2000. In his new role, Hoffman will oversee the Gant business in Latin America, as well as in Canada and Japan, two regions he had also headed as ceo of Gant USA. Hoffman will remain based in New York, where Gant will open a new office for the Latin America, Canada and Japan businesses.
Arbuthnot is currently senior vice president for wholesale and merchandising at Christian Dior USA, a position he has held for the last six years. Prior to Dior, he held senior merchandising positions at Gucci USA for six years. Earlier in his career, Arbuthnot held positions at Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. In his new role, Arbuthnot will be based in New York and will report to Dirk-Jan Stoppelenburg, Gant AB’s global ceo, who is based in Stockholm.
Stoppelenburg told WWD that Hoffman would be responsible for building up the budding Gant businesses in Latin America, where the brand is currently marketed only in Brazil and Mexico. Hoffman will focus on those countries, as well as opening up the Argentina, Chile and Uruguay markets.
“In the past 10 years, Ari has brought the brand back from being a little bit forgotten and out of touch with its own heritage. It is now in a very healthy position in the U.S.,” said Stoppelenburg. “We hope Ari will do something similar in Latin America and speed up development there.”
Since 2010, Gant has opened three stores in New York — Gant Rugger concepts on Bleecker Street and Prince Street and a New Haven college store, which is where the brand was originally founded in 1949 — in addition to its existing Fifth Avenue flagship. Owned retail will become a bigger part of the Gant business here and the company plans to open between two and four stores per year in the U.S., which will be a key focus for Arbuthnot, said Stoppelenburg.
Hoffman also spearheaded the launch of the Gant by Michael Bastian collaboration, which launched in fall 2010 and is now sold in over 100 stores in the U.S. and more than 150 stores internationally. However, the U.S. still accounts for single-digit percentage sales of the Gant brand globally.
“The U.S. is probably the 15th largest market for the brand now,” said Stoppelenburg. “By 2015 we would like it to be the third largest market, behind the U.K. and Germany. We have a very ambitious plan for the U.S. and that’s where David [Arbuthnot] comes in.”
In 2010, Gant posted total sales of about 8 billion Swedish kronor, or $1.27 billion at current exchange. The company is privately held by Geneva, Switzerland-based Maus Frères SA, which also owns Devanlay SA, the holder of the Lacoste apparel and accessories licenses.
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