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Féraud Unties Creative Knott

Citing poor sales of its new luxury line, Féraud said it was parting ways with creative director Jean-Paul Knott to focus on its main label and retailing.

PARIS — Citing poor sales of its new luxury ready-to-wear collection, Féraud SARL said Friday that it was parting ways with its creative director Jean-Paul Knott to concentrate on its main label and its retail network.

“We are very happy with the image Jean-Paul has conveyed and created for Féraud, but we are disappointed by the commercial result,” Féraud managing director François-Xavier de Monts told WWD. “We have decided to concentrate on ladies’ ready-to-wear, under the Féraud label, which is the core business.”

De Monts said the tough economic climate figured in the decision, but he added that the company is nevertheless gunning to grow sales by 24 percent this year to about $46 million.

Last June, Féraud hired Knott, a Belgian designer who famously worked alongside couturier Yves Saint Laurent for 11 years, to energize the label with a runway collection priced about 50 percent higher than its bread-and-butter line. But reviews for the Louis Féraud Paris line were lukewarm. De Monts said about 20 stores carried the debut collection for spring 2003, but the fall-winter line, shown earlier this month during Paris Fashion Week, would not be produced. Five employees are affected by the shutdown, he added.

Reached on Friday, Knott said he was saddened by Féraud’s decision and would now concentrate on his three-year-old signature collection, which is sold in about 40 stores worldwide. He is readying his spring 2004 precollection to show buyers during couture week in July.

“I think we did a beautiful job, and I thank everyone who was part of it,” Knott said. De Monts did not rule out a return to luxury rtw in the future, but stressed that the immediate focus would be on building the core women’s wear and men’s wear businesses, and initiatives such as a new 3,300-square-foot Paris flagship on Rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré slated to open in July.

He also noted that Féraud, which is majority-owned by Escada AG, is seeking a new investment partner to help grow the business through retail expansion and national advertising. He declined to say who potential partners might be, but suggested that a deal could be concluded by the end of the year.

Also in the works are licensing contracts for a range of new Féraud products, including watches, leather goods, sunglasses and costume jewelry.