Henri Bendel is opening its doors again to brands, sources tell WWD.
The new strategy could commence later this year and will include jewelry vendors and possibly other categories, sources said.
L Brands, which owns Bendel’s, could not be reached for comment. L Brands also owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works.
Bringing back market brands would be a major switch for Bendel’s. For the past decade, the retailer has maintained a relatively low profile, flip-flopped on merchandising strategies, and is now a business practically entirely built on the Bendel private label.
Henri Bendel’s heyday was when it operated as a single-unit retailer at 10 West 57th Street in Manhattan and run by the late Geraldine Stutz until 1986. It became world-renowned for its “street of shops” and as a place to discover brands and unique products. Andy Warhol was an illustrator for the store in the Sixties. The store was founded by Frenchman Henri Bendel in 1895.
When Limited Inc., now called L Brands, took over the business in 1985, it relocated and expanded the store to 712 Fifth Avenue near 56th Street. But the panache and popularity of the store disappeared in the transition, and Bendel’s never reclaimed its cache.
Today the business operates 29 locations including the Fifth Avenue flagship. Bendel’s sells handbags, jewelry, accessories, candles, fragrance, luggage, gifts and bath and body products. A few years ago, it dropped apparel, lingerie, cosmetics and all its market brands.