COSTA, ‘SCALING DOWN,’ LAYS OFF N.Y. SHOWROOM SALES MANAGER

Byline: Holly Haber

DALLAS — Victor Costa Inc. last week laid off Bob Licht, sales manager of the better-priced Boutique line in the company’s New York showroom, and at least three other people at headquarters here.
“When you are scaling down, the big ones have to go first,” said Victor Costa, owner and designer, referring to Licht’s dismissal. He declined to say more on why the company was downsizing and maintained that the business was “doing well.”
Licht also declined to comment.
Costa said he would have an announcement shortly about the future of his New York showroom at 501 Seventh Ave., but would not elaborate. Calls to the showroom Tuesday yielded either no response or a recording that said, “Please enter your account code.”
Edgar Malkin, general manager of the building for Helmsley-Spear, said, “I don’t want to talk about tenants unless I have something good to say. If you call there and there is no answer you can draw your own inference.”
Costa’s other layoffs last week included the piece-goods purchasing agent and two cutters here, the designer said.
However, industry sources claimed that at least eight people had been let go from the ready-to-wear maker. Costa said he wasn’t sure of the exact number of layoffs because he was out of town last week doing charity-benefit style shows in Houston and Palm Beach, Fla. The company employs about 35 people, Costa said.
“I have $1 million in orders going out the door for spring and summer, and we’re working on fall,” he noted.
In addition to his signature line, which largely mimics European couture and ready-to-wear styles, and the Boutique collection, Costa did a small experimental evening group for J.C. Penney Co. last fall under the new label Victor Costa Romantica. He said Penney’s had placed a “good order” for spring, but declined to discuss the arrangement further. A Penney’s spokeswoman confirmed that the chain was continuing with the line.
Last month, the designer filed a personal bankruptcy petition, which he blamed on the legal costs of a sexual harassment suit levied in 1993 by a former employee. The case hasn’t gone to trial.

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