LONDON — Tommy Hilfiger Group will wind down its European license for handbags and small leather goods and take the business in-house as of spring 2011, WWD has learned.

This story first appeared in the June 18, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The company, acquired earlier this year by Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., will reveal the decision today.

Hilfiger handbags and small leather goods launched in Europe in 2004 and are currently made under license by Tichebox Srl, based in Bologna, Italy. Sales exceeded $20.3 million at wholesale in 2009.

“The integration of this business within the Tommy Hilfiger Group is intended to optimize product development as well as sales,” said Fred Gehring, the group’s chief executive officer. “We see tremendous growth potential for these categories and this step will provide us with greater control and improved brand alignment.”

Christopher Koerber, senior vice president of footwear and accessories, will oversee the handbags and small leather goods division. He will report to Daniel Grieder, ceo of Tommy Hilfiger Europe BV.

The company did not disclose the financial details of the transaction.

Hilfiger will retain its links to Tichebox: The American company will enter into a new licensing agreement with the Italian manufacturer for the design, production, sales and marketing of luggage under the Tommy Hilfiger name.

The move is in line with Hilfiger’s strategy of taking licenses in-house and consolidating brand management: In 2008, the company bought back its Tommy Hilfiger Footwear Europe and Tommy Hilfiger Japan licenses, and the brand also has brought its U.S. accessories, footwear and handbag businesses in-house.

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