Graziano de Boni

Valentino USA has named Wendy Kahn as senior vice president of sales, marketing and retail as part of its strategy to rev up domestic sales.

NEW YORK — Valentino USA has named Wendy Kahn as senior vice president of sales, marketing and retail as part of its strategy to rev up domestic sales.

Kahn, who will take the post at the end of May, was hired from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, where she was president of Celine and Pucci USA. Kahn’s new boss, Graziano de Boni, president and chief executive officer, said she will be instrumental in phase two of the company’s turnaround.

“The Valentino business has increased substantially in the last three years, and at this point, we need to strengthen our team with a senior executive coordinating and managing our different divisions in an effort to further our growth opportunities,” he said.

Kahn will oversee the heads of women’s wear, accessories, men’s wear and retail.

Opening more freestanding stores and concept shops, building wholesale volume, especially for accessories, and expanding sales in Canada and Mexico are among her priorities. “She’s a senior talent in our industry and she has her feet on the ground — sometimes that’s not easy to find in the luxury world,” de Boni said.

After completing the first stage of its turnaround plan for the U.S., its single biggest market, Valentino has seen its U.S. sales count for a little more than 25 percent of its worldwide business, de Boni said. The label’s reinvigorated wholesale business and its luxury stores helped accomplish that goal, de Boni said.

“Phase one of rebuilding the business and reinstating the brand is done,” he said.

Valentino plans to open its seventh store at the end of the month on Boston’s Newbury Street. There are plans to open one or two more annually for the next few years.

“It depends on the availability,” de Boni said. “It has to be a good location and an interesting deal. With today’s real estate market, the days of opening a retail store just to have a big window on the world are gone. If you don’t make money, there’s no need for it.”

Creating a more iconic presence on selling floors is another initiative. De Boni noted that only two years have passed since Valentino opened its first concept shop at Bergdorf Goodman. It also has them in Neiman Marcus’ San Francisco and Boca Raton, Fla., stores.

This story first appeared in the May 5, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Bolstering Valentino’s accessories business — at which Kahn excelled during her tenure at LVMH — is another priority. De Boni said Valentino’s wholesale accessories business was “nonexistent” three years ago and it was small in Valentino specialty stores. Now it is a sizeable business worldwide, comprising 25 percent of international sales, he said.

As for landing an executive from LVMH, he said: “We’re very proud that this is the first senior person we have hired from that group. We’re proud that we’ve attracted talent from that renowned and respected company.”