NEW YORK — P. Diddy will have to wait a little longer than expected for his first flagship.

Last week, Sean John officials divulged that negotiations for its first prospective retail venture had hit a roadblock and a New York flagship would not open this fall, as initially expected. Charles Soriano, director of retail at Sean John, explained, “We have experienced some unfortunate setbacks with our desired retail space and have started another search for a new location. The opening has been moved to spring ’04 providing a suitable location is found by the end of the summer.”

Sean John recently made an offer for a 3,800-square-foot space on Fifth Avenue and 41st Street, but that deal fell through, “due to issues with the lease and financial factors,” said Soriano. “We want to do this right from both a branding perspective and a financial perspective, and are not interested in opening a money-losing store like some other companies have done. We aren’t going to make a rash decision and we want to make sure we get the right location for the first store.”

The company is still interested in finding a 3,500- to 4,000-square-foot space on Fifth Avenue, somewhere between 40th Street and the mid-40s, but has expanded its search to other areas of the city, including SoHo. “We want to open this first store in New York, get the business model down, and then expand in other cities. But first, we have to establish a successful and sustainable business model here,” said Soriano, who holds an M.B.A. degree from Harvard and joined Sean John last year, following a stint as vice-president of retail at Kate Spade.

In other news, Todd Howard, a former president of men’s jeans, juniors’ jeans and boys’ and girls’ at Tommy Hilfiger, is close to being named chief operating officer and executive vice-president of Sean John, according to DNR, WWD’s sister publication. He moved into his new offices on June 30, but an official announcement by the company has not been made. According to sources, he will report directly to Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, as does executive vice president Jeffrey Tweedy.

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