Project Global Tradeshow founder Sam Ben-Avraham has exited his role as president of the show he launched in 2003. Andrew Pollard, a 15-year veteran of the denim and contemporary sportswear industries, has been tapped as president of Project, which is owned by Advanstar Communications Inc.
This story first appeared in the June 3, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Project has also canceled the July edition of its New York show, which has been under increasing pressure from competing exhibitions, including Capsule, MRket, Vanguard, The Collective and Blue. Project said it will return to New York in January with a reinvigorated format.
Pollard, a former vice president of sales at both Diesel USA and Sixty USA, started in his new position in May and reports to Joe Loggia, chief executive officer of Advanstar. Ben-Avraham will no longer have daily responsibilities at Project but will continue to consult for the company.
“I’ve launched my own label this year and I haven’t been able to give 100 percent to Project so it wasn’t fair to keep me here as president,” said Ben-Avraham of his exit from the management role. Ben-Avraham’s new women’s label, Improvd, which he described as “avant-garde basics at very attractive price points,” has been picked up for fall by Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Ron Herman, among other retailers.
Ben-Avraham also operates the influential Atrium specialty stores in New York and Miami.
Advanstar Communications acquired Project from Ben-Avraham in 2005 for $37.9 million, after its growth from a small, upstart trade show into a major player in the denim and premium sportswear markets.
However, while the Las Vegas edition of Project has thrived over the past few years, the New York show has been shrinking and living a peripatetic existence at a variety of venues. Over the years it has shown at the Puck Building, the Metropolitan Pavilion, 7 World Trade Center, Pier 40, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the Lexington Avenue Armory and, most recently, a loft space at 82 Mercer Street. Ben-Avraham has previously said the New York show is not a moneymaker for Project.
Last season Project New York hosted about 150 brands in comparison to the 360 brands that showed in the spring 2007 show at the Javits Center. The quality of brands at Project has also declined, as many trendier labels opted for the newer Capsule and Blue shows. Those difficulties led Project to cancel its upcoming July show, said Pollard.
“Sometimes tough decisions are needed to create radical change,” he explained. “We want to take a look at the entire business and relaunch in January with a grander concept and a more creative platform. I’m very confident in what we can create and rethink how we do business in this city.”
Pollard, a native of Perth, Australia, started his career at Diesel Australia before moving on to vice president of sales and marketing at Diesel Canada and Diesel USA. In 2000 he took a similar position at Sixty USA where he stayed for four years, before going on to cofound the Kiki de Montparnasse luxury lingerie and lifestyle brand. In 2007, Pollard cashed out his stake in that company in an attempt to launch a new online social networking site, called Iconyc.com, which didn’t get off the ground due to the economic downturn. Most recently, he served as a consultant on an ongoing, widespread revamping of the retail space at New York’s World Financial Center.
“New York is a very competitive environment,” acknowledged Ben-Avraham. “It’s tough because people have been cutting travel budgets, and many buyers are focusing on Las Vegas as the one place to go and see everyone.”
Pollard emphasized that Project Las Vegas is in good shape, with preregistrations up 25 percent for the upcoming August show.