EISEN’S NEW MOVES
Byline: Anne D’Innocenzio
NEW YORK — Mark Eisen, who has built his designer and contemporary sportswear firm to $18 million in sales since its inception nine years ago, now has bigger ambitions: to develop the name into a global brand.
As part of that strategy, Eisen has named Brad Saltzman as his partner, president and chief executive officer.
Saltzman, who joined the firm Monday, had been executive vice president of sales at Adrienne Vittadini for three years. Eisen, who had held the president and ceo titles, will remain designer and chairman.
The changes will allow Eisen, who had been involved in every aspect of the business, to concentrate on design. In his new post, Saltzman, who will have a 50 percent stake in the firm, will oversee finance, marketing and distribution.
“I have searched for over three years for a partner who shared my same vision and goals, and I am most excited to be able to hand the business side of the company to Brad and to have my primary focus on design,” Eisen said in a statement. “We are now poised to explode the business both domestically and internationally through multiple categories.”
Saltzman said he was introduced to Eisen four months ago and had been in conversations with him since then.
“The company is now heading toward a very aggressive international and domestic growth strategy,” said Saltzman. The goal is to double overall sales within three years. The firm, which does about 10 percent of its volume overseas, wants to increase that to 50 percent at the same time, Saltzman said.
As part of that strategy, the company, which currently markets Mark Eisen Collection and Urchin, its contemporary line, has signed a joint venture agreement with licensing agent Nissho Iwai Corp. to develop the Studio Mark Eisen line in Japan.
It also signed Ichida Co. as its distribution agent as part of that venture. The Studio Mark Eisen label had been dormant.
First-year sales projections for the line, which will act as the international counterpart to Urchin, is expected to reach $6 million to $8 million, Saltzman said.
“We are using Studio Mark Eisen rather than Urchin in the overseas markets because it has more of a name recognition,” he said.
Saltzman said the firm plans to market the Studio Mark Eisen name to other countries such as the U.K., Korea and Australia, starting with fall 1998.
As for the Mark Eisen Collection, the firm is in negotiations with an Italian licensing partner to distribute the sportswear line, along with new licensed products such as shoes and handbags in Italy. It will also home in on such countries as Greece, Switzerland, Italy and England. The company, which had a “haphazard” international marketing strategy, plans to focus on the top 30 to 50 stores in each country, according to Saltzman.
Meanwhile, Mark Eisen plans to concentrate on building Urchin’s existing 350 domestic department store accounts. The item-driven line, which was launched in fall ’96, is expected to wind up with a wholesale volume of $10 million by yearend.
In a related move, the firm plans to move its Los Angeles headquarters, including operations, sales and marketing divisions, to New York by the end of the first quarter of ’98. The firm operates a showroom at 214 West 39th Street, but company officials hope to move the showroom to new offices, at a site not yet been selected.
Two months ago, the company closed its design studio in Los Angeles and opened a studio at 21 East Fourth Street.
“We want to be in New York because it is the hub of the garment industry — it is also the international center,” Saltzman said.