NEW YORK — Georges Wichner has been named to the new post of managing director of Revillon, the French furrier.

Until last August, Wichner was president and chief executive officer of Valentino USA, a position he held since October 1999. Prior to that, he spent seven years as president of Thierry Mugler U.S. and before that, he was vice president of retail for Yves Saint Laurent.

Wichner, who has relocated from New York to Paris, said Revillon is close to naming an American designer as artistic director, but declined to divulge his name until the contract is signed later this month. With this new designer, Revillon will launch sportswear, knitwear, and accessories collections for fall-winter 2003, he said.

"The excitement is to take a brand from scratch and build the whole thing. We plan to form a team and add new categories of products," Wichner said.

Wichner, who began today at company headquarters at 44 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, said he will have an equity position in Revillon. Hereports to Revillon’s board of directors.

Revillon, which was founded in 1823,is one of France’s oldest furriers. In 1996, Revillon severed its ties with Saks Fifth Avenue, where it had operated in-store boutiques, and set out to open its own freestanding stores. In 1999, Revillon was struggling financially and was sold to Switzerland’s Fibalko SA by its owner, France’s Cora hypermarket chain. While the sale was generally considered a positive move for the furrier, it impacted the company’s North American operations. After the sale, the company closed its Manhattan flagship on Fifth Avenue and 56th Street and currently has no North American distribution. It presently has distribution in Switzerland, France, Italy, Belgium and Germany.

Wichner said the company’s priorities are to reopen a U.S. flagship on Madison Avenue or Fifth Avenue in New York and then to reestablish its distribution in the U.S. through a selective network of retailers.

Dusanka Milisevic continues as chairwoman of Revillon.

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