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NEW YORK — Marvin Traub, the 79-year-old consultant and former chairman and chief executive of Bloomingdale’s operates in two gears, forward and fast-forward.
Traub, in yet another phase of his career, said in an interview Monday he is bringing the Jacques Dessange hair brand to the U.S., managing the North American distribution of London-based Pout color cosmetics, and licensing Grant boxing equipment into apparel and lifestyle categories, among other projects.
He also is launching Kelly Hoppen contemporary home fashions in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus and arranging licenses for Kelly Hoppen tabletop, sheets, furniture, floor coverings and lamps.
Traub is moving his namesake consulting company, Marvin Traub Associates, from Financo Inc., the investment banking firm, into offices at 350 Park Avenue. Traub and Financo chief Gilbert W. Harrison have said Traub would continue as a senior adviser to the company.
“I like to say I’m starting my third career,” Traub said. “My first was with Bloomingdale’s. My second was with Financo. And my third is here, Marvin Traub Associates.”
Traub said he needed more space than Financo provided because his business is growing. He acknowledged that his “major relationships” are with his own clients and that his firm has 25 projects in development, though some are more preliminary than others, including a 250,000-square-foot upscale department store in Athens that he hopes to help plan.
He does, however, already have a team in Panama City to retenant the Multicentro one million-square-foot shopping center, and is consulting on the plan for the four million-square-foot Morgan Center complex on the grounds of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Village. With a hotel, apartments, offices and retail, the center is inspired by the six-month-old Time Warner Center here, which Traub also helped conceive. Among his other real estate projects, he’s been helping to reshape Moscow’s largest department stores, Tsum, into a designer emporium having brought in Armani, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and other brands to the 250,000-square-foot setting. “Visualize a Barneys or a Bloomingdale’s,’’ he said. “That’s what it looks like now.”
On the start-up side, Traub said he’s launching a Web site, called seethatagain.com, to help consumers identify and buy products seen on television and in music videos. He’s working with AOL, which has video streaming.
Traub is also working on an upcoming luxury television network for lifestyle shows and some elements of home shopping intended to debut by the fall of 2005. “We’ve been retained for it. There are a group of television industry people working on this. It’s 90 percent funded,” Traub said. He declined to give further details.
“He’s working with a group to create this luxury channel, not really a commerce channel business,” said Philip Miller, operating director of Tri-Artisan Partners merchant bank, and a former chairman of Saks Fifth Avenue and Marshall Field’s. “It’s a real start-up business, they’re still fund-raising, but a lot of people are involved. Marvin likes the action.
“He’s been terribly active since he left Bloomingdale’s. He loves to be busy. He loves to travel and he loves venture types of businesses…though the consulting business requires keeping a fair number of irons in the fire. Clients and consultants come and go.”
Dessange is to be launched on QVC in October, tie-in with a “leading” salon in New York City and is intended to eventually be sold at a Sephora-like specialty chain, Traub said, without providing specifics. About six years ago, Dessange was sold in the U.S. but pulled out of the market amid questions about the immigration of some employees. Dessange is known for offering moderate-priced to upscale products made from Normandy clay and covering the gamut from medicinal to volumizing products.
With Pout, “we run the business in the U.S,” Traub said, adding that he’s widened the distribution to Henri Bendel, Sephora and Holt Renfrew. Louis of Boston is also expected to start selling the brand and Victoria’s Secret has begun testing the line.
Traub left Bloomingdale’s in 1991, started Marvin Traub Associates, his consulting practice, in 1992, and became senior adviser to Financo in 1994. Now he has started serving as a senior adviser to The Mayfair Group, a fund manager focused on private equity and global real estate investments, and Compass Advisers, a $900 million fund in Europe. His office is at Mayfair headquarters.
Ira Neiman, retired chairman and ceo of Bergdorf Goodman, who does consulting and serves on boards, said of Traub: “If you keep looking for work, you can always find it. I’m looking the other way, but Marvin is unbelievable. He never gives up working.”
In addition to his staff of eight, Traub has 15 consultants, including Jim Rosenfield, former president of CBS, Linda Beauchamp, who was president of Donna Karan men’s wear and Susan Dell Inc., and Dawn Mello, former president of Bergdorf Goodman and former Gucci executive, lined up to work on an assignment basis.
His business generally involves consulting on malls to beef up the merchandising, brand-building through licensing and increased distribution; and start-ups that he could have a stake in. Traub got a piece of Jacques Dessange, by forming a company called French Beauty Services to market the brand in America. “It does $800 million euros in volume,’’ Traub said.