LONDON — Mary-Adair Macaire has stepped down as chief executive officer of Pringle of Scotland after nearly two-and-a-half years. She has been succeeded by Jean Fang, a member of the Hong Kong-based family that owns the brand.
This story first appeared in the February 7, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
An announcement is expected today.
Benoit Duverger has been named managing director, reporting to Fang and her family. Duverger had been director of global communications at Pringle.
Fang referred to Duverger as an “extremely driven” luxury goods professional. “I am confident he will advance the excellent work achieved to date and take it further,” she said.
The Fang family business, S.C. Fang & Sons Co. Ltd., acquired Pringle from Dawson International plc in 2000, and since then it has taken the label upmarket, transforming it into a luxury brand with knitwear at its core.
Over the past two years, Macaire and Duverger gave the brand a more sophisticated profile through collaborations with London’s Serpentine Gallery and with artists such as the Turner Prize winner Richard Wright and David Shrigley, who designed limited edition twinsets for Pringle.
Macaire and Duverger gave an edge to the company’s ad campaigns, tapping Tilda Swinton to model and Ryan McGinley to shoot quirky images set on Scottish beaches and in the countryside. They introduced e-commerce and made a big effort to attract international buyers and press to the shows in London and Milan.
However, the brand is still struggling to build sales and profits, and over the summer Pringle said it would close its Bond Street store here, with an eye to opening smaller locations — 1,100 square feet, on average — in London and resorts such as Monte Carlo, Monaco; Gstaad, Switzerland and Aspen, Colo. These stores will sell mostly cashmere knitwear.
According to Companies House, the official government register for U.K. businesses, Pringle’s sales in the year ending Jan. 30, 2010, were 11.1 million pounds, or $17.8 million, down 36 percent from the previous year. Losses were 6.7 million pounds, or $10.7 million, down from 9.3 million pounds, or $14.9 million, in the previous year.
Pringle plans to move forward with a more commercial tack. Duverger said there are plans to reintroduce a golf line, and the brand has hired Sophia Neophitou, the editor of 10 Magazine, to design a capsule collection of packable cashmere knits that will be sold at duty free stores exclusively. That collection will go on sale in September.
The brand will continue its fashion and art collaborations. During London Fashion Week it will launch a capsule collection of tweaked designs from the Pringle archives, known as the Pringle Archive Project 1815-2011. The collection has been conceived in collaboration with students from Central Saint Martins. Pringle has also collaborated with the British artist Liam Gillick, who’s designed a collection of multicolored argyle sweaters that will debut at Pitti Uomo in June.