By  on December 6, 2011

MILAN — Lance Isham is leaving his post as chief executive officer of the Façonnable Group, effective Dec. 31, and will be succeeded by Moustapha El-Solh. Isham will relocate to the U.S. to pursue his family business, but will remain chairman of the board.

“It was a natural move,” El-Solh told WWD of Isham’s decision. “But we will continue to build from the strategic positioning Lance put in motion over the past three years, as we have a strong base to capitalize upon.”

Next year for Façonnable will be one of consolidation and geographic expansion, both in terms of retail and wholesale distribution, said El-Solh. “There is a great potential in areas such as Latin America and the Far East,” he explained. While declining to provide a specific figure, he noted he expects gains in revenues of between 15 to 20 percent.

Known for its classic men’s tailoring, shirts, heritage and resortwear, Façonnable will also continue to develop its women’s division. To accommodate that growing category, the company is refurbishing its boutiques around the world according to a new Riviera-inspired blueprint, with blue and beige accents, chevron-patterned unfinished white oak floors and honey-colored oak paneling. This is paired with limestone and millwork that channels the work of Thirties French decorator Jean-Michel Frank. El-Solh said the store concept highlights Façonnable’s “heritage and modern lifestyle” with “a warm, residential” mood. The brand is available at 74 boutiques and 45 points of sale in 25 countries globally. Façonnable has invested in a new, more efficient information technology system, and El-Solh said its e-store will be the group’s largest in 12 months.

Façonnable is headquartered in Nice, France, and was founded in 1950 by Jean Goldberg. Lebanon-based M1 Group bought the company from Nordstrom in 2007 for $210 million, and the executive underscored how the brand is capitalizing on its history and its chic French Cote d’Azur origins. “This is a lifestyle brand, with strong awareness and positioning,” he noted. “It is strong enough to weather the slowdown of the economy. Retailers have all been impacted, but Façonnable is a very focused and niche label, and we are counting on that loyal clientele.” The group is also betting on a tailored denim collection launched earlier this year.

A 16-year veteran of M1, El-Solh, who is currently its executive director, has held key positions in diverse divisions, ranging from telecom to real estate. “I bring my experience as a consumer, as a longtime fan of the brand; my experience with the shareholders, working close with Lance, and commercial and managing skills,” said El-Solh.

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