Byline: Arthur Friedman

NEW YORK — After a 14-year relationship, Christian Dior Inc., the U.S. arm of the Paris fashion house, and Jones Apparel Group are parting ways.
The two companies Tuesday confirmed market reports that their deal had been terminated. A Dior spokeswoman said the companies had “mutually agreed” to end the Dior coat license at the end of this year and the suit license effective Sept. 30, 1997. The spokeswoman added that Dior would not be looking to license the suits and coats elsewhere.
“Although the Christian Dior suit business at Jones has seen double-digit increases yearly, the long-term strategies of both companies have led to this recent decision,” the Dior spokeswoman said. “Christian Dior has embarked upon an aggressive long-term strategic repositioning of women’s ready-to-wear, concentrating on the designer segment.”
This news comes on the heels of last month’s naming of John Galliano as Dior’s new designer, replacing Gianfranco FerrA. The spokeswoman said Dior’s direction would be to expand its Paris-based designer collection business in the U.S., including opening more signature boutiques.
There are five Dior stores in the U.S. right now and she said plans are to open several more next year. She said the firm is scouting sites, but she would not elaborate.
Jones has held the Dior suit license since 1982 and this year became the licensee for Dior coats. Jones does not release separate sales figures for the bridge-priced suit line, but sources said the line did about $25 million at wholesale last year.
The coat collection, which was held by Cuddlecoat Inc. for 10 years prior to the switch to Jones, was expected to generate about $5 million this year.
Jones had a volume of $776 million in 1995, and with the blockbuster launch of the licensed Lauren by Ralph Lauren line this fall, Jones wasn’t fretting over the loss of the Dior line.
“To us, given the relatively small size of the Dior business, it’s a non-event,” said Wesley R. Card, chief financial officer at Jones.
Dior’s other licensees in women’s wear — Grosse for jewelry, Carrera for eyewear, Pennaco for hosiery, Carol Hochman for innerwear and Bestform for foundations — will continue.