The Judith Ripka jewelry brand has a new licensing partner.

This story first appeared in the July 21, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Xcel Brands Inc., which acquired the Ripka intellectual property assets in April, has signed a licensing agreement with KGK Jewellery Manufacturing Ltd. to take over the operation’s wholesale component. That includes manufacturing, selling and distributing jewelry under the Ripka label. Distribution will include luxury retailers for the high-end Judith Ripka Ltd. line, and better department stores for the Judith Ripka Collection. Specialty fine-jewelry retailers sell both Ripka lines.

The wholesale operating business had been run by members of Ripka’s family under license from Xcel.

The licensing deal does not include Ripka’s line for QVC, which continues to be designed and produced by Xcel.

Ripka, chief design officer for her namesake brand, said, “I look forward to designing jewelry that will continue to be made by the best craftsmen, using the finest materials and workmanship that my customers have come to expect.”

Robert D’Loren, chairman and chief executive officer of Xcel, said his firm and KGK are also joint venture partners for the operation of Ripka’s e-commerce business. While KGK will supply the product, Xcel will provide the marketing for the site.

“We need to now step up what we do with paid advertising, such as with Facebook, search optimization and affiliate sites — all the things you do to drive traffic via social media,” D’Loren said.

D’Loren said his licensing deals typically run for an initial three years, followed by two three-year option periods.

As for other components of the Ripka business since acquiring the IP assets, D’Loren said the Xcel is operating five freestanding stores. The plans are to keep the location on Madison Avenue in Manhattan and the one in East Hills on Long Island’s North Shore, not far from the Americana Manhasset. The other three locations will likely be shuttered. D’Loren isn’t ruling out the possibility of replacing those sites with new freestanding stores down the road.

Sanjay Kothari, KGK Group vice chairman, said, “At KGK, our aim is to make and sell the finest jewelry possible with the best in class manufacturing and the finest, rarest of gemstones. We are currently undergoing a vertical integration, getting closer to consumers with our retail ventures and closer to our supply chain by acquiring mines.”

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