LONDON — Ralph Toledano, chairman of fashion house Victoria Beckham, said he would take all the time needed to find a new chief executive officer, and touted a strong organization fronted by its energetic, hyper-focused founder.
“Things are going well. I’m very happy with the progress,” he told WWD on Friday after the London-based firm disclosed that ceo Paolo Riva is leaving the company after 10 months — for personal reasons and with immediate effect.
Toledano is to lead the business moving forward, and spearhead the search for a new ceo, already under way.
“It has been a real pleasure working with Paolo, and on behalf of the board, I would like to thank him for his contribution. I look forward to continuing to drive and implement the strategy for the brand with Victoria and the team,” he said.
Riva said he was proud of what he accomplished with the team “and wish the company great success for the future.” He joined the fashion firm on Sept. 1, 2018, and reported to the board of directors. He succeeded Zach Duane, who left in 2017.
There are more changes in management, with product director Marie Leblanc de Reynies promoted to managing director of brand and product, a new role, and the appointment of Pablo Sande as chief financial and legal officer.
Leblanc de Reynies joined the company a year ago, having previously headed women’s fashion and brand positioning for Printemps in Paris. She has also worked in design and collection development at Isabel Marant and Celine, respectively.
Sande was formerly cfo of Salvatore Ferragamo Americas. Prior to that, he spent almost a decade at Burberry and has more than 20 years’ experience in finance within the luxury fashion sector.
“We are reinforcing the structure,” Toledano said. “We have put in place the right processes, the right organization, the right communication.”
What’s more, he touted a “family atmosphere, a positive atmosphere” within the company.
“Victoria is working like hell. She’s fully committed and we are progressing in every step,” he said. “The most difficult part was getting the product where it has to be and Victoria showed us she has the vision and it’s very clear. Her brand features are very clear; her woman is very clear.”
The designer’s fall collection, tinged with Seventies cool, won strong reviews.
Asked about the chief priority for the business, Toledano replied: “It’s growth, and we’re growing.”
Mid-September will be a key moment for Beckham as she stages her spring 2020 show in London and unveils her new direct-to-consumer beauty line.
Riva became ceo in a landmark year for Victoria Beckham as it marked a decade in business. Prior to joining the London fashion house, he held a similar role at Diane von Furstenberg Studio and was the founder of an eponymous consultancy based in New York.
Riva’s job was to work closely with Beckham, founder and creative director of VBL, and the board to drive strategic geographical and product expansion and a direct-to-consumer strategy. He was also in position for the launch, this coming September, of the brand’s direct-to-consumer beauty line.
Before joining DVF in 2015, Riva was vice president of apparel and visual merchandising for Tory Burch LLC, where he worked for nearly three years. The Italian-born executive had also worked as worldwide product marketing and merchandising director at Valentino, and head of the ladies’ shoe business unit at Salvatore Ferragamo. He holds a master’s from Bocconi University in Milan.
His appointment came just a few months after Beckham named industry veteran Toledano as chairman.
The brand has offices in London and New York, a flagship store in Mayfair and in central Hong Kong, and more than 400 stockists in 50 countries. Beckham began showing her signature collection at London Fashion Week last September.
In 2017, NEO Investment Partners invested 30 million pounds in the business as a strategic partner and minority shareholder. In addition to NEO, the company is owned by Beckham Brand Holdings, and Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment.
As reported, revenues at Victoria Beckham Holdings were up 17 percent to 42.5 million pounds in fiscal 2017, with operating losses rising to 10.2 million pounds from 8.2 million pounds in the previous year. At the time, shareholders said they were committed to reducing the 2017 loss and expecting to break even in the medium term.
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