It didn’t take Richard Cohen long to make his first big splash at Trinity Ltd.
The newly named chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-based men’s wear retailer revealed exclusively to WWD that Cody Kondo will join the company at the end of the month as its new chief merchandising officer.
Kondo, who will leave Saks Fifth Avenue on Friday as senior vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s accessories, has had a long career in the men’s wear business. Kondo has been with Saks for the past 14 years and was gmm of men’s before being named to the women’s accessories post seven years ago. Before joining Saks, he was senior vice president of retail stores at the then-Ralph Lauren, and also served as men’s gmm at Nordstrom and general manager of Nordstrom’s Northeast region.
“He’s going to be the chief merchandising officer for all three brands,” Cohen said, “and will oversee all the buying, merchandising and visual merchandising for our 450 stores in China.”
Kondo will also oversee Trinity’s 11 stores in the U.K., one in Paris and one in New York City. A publicly traded company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which is part of the privately held Fung Group, owns the Kent & Curwen, Cerruti and Gieves & Hawkes brands. It also holds long-term licenses for D’Urban and Intermezzo in Greater China.
“I’ve known Cody for 25 years and we get along really well,” Cohen said. The London-born Cohen was president and ceo of Ermenegildo Zegna North America for 16 years and has also been president and ceo of Robert Talbott and had a short, turbulent stint at St. John. Before joining Trinity, he served as senior vice president of business development at Saks. “[Kondo] knows the men’s business really well, has a great taste level and is a global thinker. There are not that many American retailers who run global companies and this is an opportunity for Cody and I to prove to the world that American-trained executives can succeed on a global level,” added Cohen.
Reached at his office at Saks, Kondo said he’s eager to get back into the men’s business and hone his international skills. “It’ll be good to get back to men’s wear,” he said. “And this is an exciting proposition.”
He said he has visited Trinity’s Asian offices a couple of times to meet with Li & Fung chief William Fung and others, and sees a big “upside opportunity” to grow Trinity’s men’s wear brands. “They all have a history and a rich legacy and I’ll work with the different creative directors to bring them forward to the 21st century.” Simon Spurr serves as creative director for Kent & Curwen and Jason Basmajian holds the same post at Gieves & Hawkes.
Kondo said he and his wife — now “empty nesters” — will relocate to Hong Kong. “My wife’s a good sport,” he said with a laugh. “But if there’s a time to do it, it’s right now. I’m excited to be part of the Trinity team and work in such an exciting part of the world. It’s a good thing.”
Kondo will be joining Trinity at a time when the company is working through some issues with excess inventory in its stores and belt-tightening with its customers.
Last month, Trinity reported a 47.3 percent drop in net profits in the first half as the ongoing economic slowdown in China took its toll. In the period, the company reported net profits of 79 million Hong Kong dollars, or $10.2 million. Trinity said that more than 90 percent of the profit drop was due to the decline in revenue and a swing in unrealized foreign exchange gains and losses. Revenues declined 5.9 percent to 1.26 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $162.5 million.
At the time, Cohen cited a “frugality drive” among consumers and “an increase in costs both in rents and in personnel.”
Trinity reduced the total number of stores in Greater China by 18 during the first half of the year, while same-store sales in mainland China declined by 6 percent. Sales were flat in Hong Kong and Macau and increased by 2.9 percent in Taiwan.
Cohen said he expects the “headwinds” in the Chinese market will continue but nonetheless anticipates that 2015 and 2016 will be much better years as Trinity works to improve product development and adjust merchandising to appeal to shoppers in Northern, Southern and Central China.
For the rest of the year, he said, Trinity will work to reduce inventory and generate cash and he expects the business to be cash-positive by the end of the year.