Sandro and Maje Parent Taps Daniel Lalonde as CEO

Paris-based SMCP Group is strengthening management ranks as it gears up for a global expansion drive.

PARIS — Strengthening management ranks for its global expansion drive, the holding company for the Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot chains has tapped Daniel Lalonde as chief executive officer, WWD has learned.

This story first appeared in the April 8, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

An official announcement is expected today.

Most recently president of Ralph Lauren International and a longtime executive at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Lalonde joins Paris-based SMCP Group as its new owner seeks to maximize growth in the hot contemporary apparel zone.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. bought a 65 percent stake in SMCP last June, signaling heightened investor interest in the accessible luxury segment.

Previously, L Capital, the private equity arm of LVMH, and Florac, an investment fund owned by the Louis-Dreyfus family, controlled SMCP as its retail banners made their first steps into America and Asia.

Lalonde is expected to start in May and work alongside the four original principals: Evelyne Chétrite and Judith Milgrom, founders and artistic directors of Sandro and Maje, respectively, as well as Frédéric Biousse and Elie Kouby, managers who joined the company in 2007 and who are to remain members of the executive team and become advisers to Lalonde.

He arrives at a company that multiplied in size sevenfold over the past six years, and continues to post strong gains in a buoyant market for accessible fashions. SMCP reported a 20.6 percent rise in 2013 revenues to 422.1 million euros, or $578.4 million at average exchange, as reported.

“Growth prospects are very exciting in Europe and North America,” said Lalonde, who also cited “very encouraging results” in Asia.

He lauded the three fashion chains for having “dynamic and innovative collections, a high-quality distribution network and very capable and passionate teams.”

Lalonde has extensive experience in building global brands, having spent half of his professional career in the U.S. and the other half in Europe.

According to SMCP’s founders, he is to accelerate the international development of the Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot brands and spearhead the expansion of their product lines.

Maje recently planted its largest U.S. flagship in Los Angeles’ Beverly Center, part of a U.S. retail rollout that will take the brand to at least 15 units this year.

After a two-year stint at Ralph Lauren, Lalonde resigned last December following an overhaul of its leadership team that saw the company create an office of the chairman, led by Ralph Lauren as chairman and ceo.

Before Ralph Lauren, Lalonde was president and ceo of Champagne house Moët & Chandon in Paris, and before that was president and ceo of Louis Vuitton North America from 2006 to 2010. He joined LVHM’s watch and jewelry business in 2002 from Nestlé, where he was global chief operating officer of Nespresso SA, and president and ceo of Nespresso North America.

A Canadian national, Lalonde holds an MBA from France’s INSEAD business school, and sits on its board. He has also held positions at Häagen-Dazs and the consulting firm Deloitte & Touche.

Lalonde is SMCP’s latest hire as it gears up for a growth phase.

Last March, longtime Giorgio Armani executive Fabio Mancone joined SMCP as head of global branding and business development strategies, a role that encompasses spearheading new product categories, including accessories, along with licensing and other growth avenues.

In addition, Emmanuel Pradère was named vice president of finance and operations last year. A 41-year-old graduate of HEC Business School in Paris, he had held posts at French retailers Saint-Gobain Group and Casino Group.

Chétrite established the Sandro label in Paris’s garment district in 1984, and Milgrom, her sister, launched Maje in 1998.

Sandro expanded into men’s wear in 2007 under the aegis of Chétrite’s son Ilan, and the Claudie Pierlot label was acquired in 2009.

SMCP ended 2013 with 714 boutiques and concessions in 14 countries, including 101 locations in North America and 11 in Asia. Last year, it generated 35 percent of its revenues outside of France.