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Bongibault to Exit Valentino for Escada Unit

PARIS -- Beatrice Bongibault will leave Valentino this summer to become managing director of Escada Development, a new company created to spearhead a major expansion by the German fashion giant into accessories and men's wear.<BR><BR>Bongibault will...

PARIS — Beatrice Bongibault will leave Valentino this summer to become managing director of Escada Development, a new company created to spearhead a major expansion by the German fashion giant into accessories and men’s wear.

Bongibault will have a minority stake in the new company and will be in charge of the development, distribution and marketing of product lines and classifications worldwide.

She will also become a member of the Escada Group’s strategic management committee and assume responsibility for marketing and merchandising for all Escada’s freestanding and in-store boutiques.

“For me, Escada is the fashion of the future. It’s a strong industrial company with a great fashion image, and I’m looking forward to playing my part in its development,” Bongibault said in an interview here.

Bongibault, currently Valentino’s director of international operations, will assume her new post on July 1 and will be based in Paris. She will be reporting to Escada Group chairman Wolfgang Ley.

“Right now,” Ley told WWD, “accessories account for a little more than 5 percent of turnover, or about $20.6 million [35 million marks]. At houses like Dior or Chanel, the figure is significantly higher. We are underdeveloped in this sector. There’s room for a great deal of expansion.”

The Escada group had consolidated sales of $700 million in the year ended Nov. 1, 1993. Nearly 40 percent of that came from the Escada brand.

Ley declined to provide sale projections for Escada Development, “but we don’t want to aim too high,” he added.

Escada markets and retails bags, shoes and scarfs, but apart from an agreement with Pancaldi of Italy to make shoes, it has no licenses, Ley noted. He added that Escada will probably look for licensing partners to build hosiery and eyeglasses lines.

“At present in hosiery we do our own thing with a small contractor. But Donna Karan shows how big a business you can create in hosiery.

“The key thing is that any new line is coherent with the Escada image and does not cannibalize it,” Ley said.