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Aiming for Bigger and Better

From launching categories to opening more stores, executives are focused on business and personal growth in the new year.

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NEW YORK — From launching categories to opening more stores around the U.S., accessories executives, whatever their successes or disappointments were in 2004, are approaching the new year focused on business and personal growth.

WWD polled top executives on their goals for 2005, and what their best accomplishments and biggest mistakes were in 2004. Here’s what they had to say.

This story first appeared in the December 27, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Stanislas de Quercize, president and chief executive officer, Cartier

“We are very pleased with the new partnerships we’ve created. We have a new boutique with London Jewelers in Manhasset [N.Y.] and a new boutique with Neiman Marcus in Houston. This year, we renovated our stores in Bal Harbour [Fla.], Costa Mesa [Calif.] and the Royal Hawaiian [a mall in Honolulu].  And we are very pleased to see the Santos line [of watches] be a bestseller.

“The biggest disappointment is the fact that women are still shying away from wearing watches when they get married, and in the evening they don’t wear jewelry watches as much.

“Next year, we will go ahead with major renovations in our boutiques in Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston, and new partnerships. We are opening a new boutique with Steve Wynn in Las Vegas.”

 Reed Krakoff, president and executive creative director, Coach

“I think one of the biggest accomplishments is the continued balance of a brand with large sales, but one that is run like a small company. The biggest accomplishment for us is maintaining and accelerating the rate of growth after a number of years of growth. This year, we introduced a lot of new ideas for Coach such as Madison, which was an evening collection with a new attitude the consumer reacted well to.

“A personal mistake was that burgundy velvet suit I had custom-made, and before I ever wore it, I gave it away.

“For 2005, we’d like to maintain the momentum at Coach while balancing life and work. One personal goal is to finish the renovation of our house in the Hamptons. I am also working on publishing a book on  [industrial designer] Ron Arad — a goal is to finish that.”

Andy Spade, chief executive officer and creative director, Kate Spade

“Professionally, we launched Kate Spade home and tabletop, which exceeded all expectations. Shoes were also very successful, and Jack Spade had a phenomenal year — it’s finally getting off the ground. And then personally, my wife and I are going to have a baby [Kate Spade is due in early February].

“Home was a challenge, going from handbags to tabletop, but actually it was easier than we thought. The handbag market today is a constant challenge because of the competitiveness and the need to be more innovative than ever.

“I think the big thing [for next year] is retail expansion. We have a very aggressive plan over the next five years. We don’t have any more categories on our list, but we have planned to open about 10 new stores next year. We’re looking on the Upper East Side, Midtown and also in Los Angeles. London is also a priority.”

David Yurman, owner, Yurman Design Inc.

“We opened up stores in Atlanta, Houston, Bal Harbor and Manhasset and we are finalizing the plans for Las Vegas for 2005. The launch of our pearl business was successful beyond our wildest dreams, and we carved out a significant amount of market share for us. Right now, our biggest mistake was that we didn’t project enough for our limited-edition pieces. They just sold out and are gone.

“We lost Murray [Kleinrock, Sybil Yurman’s father]. He was the heart and soul of our business. Losing him was a great sadness. Next year is our 25th-year anniversary, so we are planning lots of things around it, including opening more freestanding stores.

“One of my personal goals is to compete in the amateur reining competition in February in Tampa. I am going to work toward that.”

John Truex, co-owner, Lambertson Truex

“Richard [Lambertson] and my biggest accomplishment was hiring a president, Michelle Ateyeh, to help us manage the growth of the company.

“Being a luxury company that makes its products in Europe, our biggest challenge is the relationship between the dollar and the euro. I’m hopeful it’ll improve.

“My personal goal is to have a better balance between my professional and personal lives. Richard and I are very happy. We think we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to accomplish. But I would also like to see myself in a few more sunny states, and should it be a Mercedes G-Class SUV that takes me from here to there I wouldn’t mind that.”

Henri Barguirdjian, president, Graff

“The biggest accomplishment was opening our Chicago building in five months. I am proud to report that it’s been doing extremely well since it opened [last month].

“If there is anything that I would have done differently, given the great results that we have had, I would have been even more aggressive in my advertising budget. I’d be very happy if 2005 is as good as 2004. Next year, we are going to open our fourth store at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas in April, move the offices in New York to new headquarters, and complete the third phase of our expansion program with Saks, which will bring our product to a total of 22 Saks stores. There is still a lot to do.”

Kari Sigerson and Miranda Morrison, owners, Sigerson Morrison

“Last year we had a dynamite launch for our new Belle line and we expanded our exposure within Europe. In the next year we’d like to continue to develop and represent the line with the addition of Belle shops in some unexpected hip neighborhoods on both coasts.

“Our biggest challenge will continue to be coping with the effects of the plunging dollar and to add value to our product without adding to price. We’re also reaching out to customers in new ways by holding trunk shows and expanding our e-commerce site.”

Jennifer Tash, founder, Isabella Fiore

“Our biggest accomplishment last year was setting up a shoe division. We have always seen the company as a full-line accessories company.

“The biggest mistake is that I should have spent more time with my husband this year. My personal life came second to everything because so much was going on. I hope in 2005, my first marriage is to my husband and my second is to my business.

“Next year, we are working on a large branding and advertising campaign because we have always been the little engine that could.”

Larry Leight, chief designer and co-founder, Oliver Peoples

“Our sales last year were the best ever in the company’s 18-year history. We focused more on the sunglass division of the brand and created designs that were extremely stimulating and desirable.  There were no mistakes this year. It was the best, our most favorite, the most fun year. But the sunglass market is also harder than it’s ever been.

“We’re opening a store in South Coast Plaza in February and also launching a new brand, Mosley Tribe. It’s an entire brand, but is starting out with sunglasses. We might do T-shirts, home stuff, whatever I’m into.

“I would like to spend more time traveling to tropical areas; a little more fantasy vacation is in order. I’d like to go to Australia and then somewhere in the South Pacific, like Tahiti or Fiji.”

Al Berg, chief executive officer, Marchon Eyewear Inc.

“Rolling out Coach [eyewear] was a major accomplishment. We also launched CK Optical globally, and finalized the business plan for Fendi worldwide. We did the same with Michael and Michael Kors. We launched Oscar de la Renta suns this year, and of course Nike continues to grow. I wish I had produced more product. We underestimated demand and therefore slowed our roll-outs and did not meet demands.

“Clearly our goal is accurately forecasting so we match demand with production. And I am certainly interested in another big, strong European brand for 2005.”

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