MARLA SABO NAMED PRESIDENT AT DIOR’S NORTH AMERICAN UNIT
Byline: Robert Murphy
PARIS — Christian Dior’s North American strategy is taking shape, and on Friday, the French luxury brand gave it a burst of energy.
Dior president Sidney Toledano said he has appointed Marla Sabo as president and chief operating officer at Christian Dior Inc., the LVMH-owned fashion house’s North American operating division.
Sabo joins Dior from Hermes, where since 1998 she has served as senior vice president in charge of development of the Paris-based house’s commercial network in the U.S. She replaces Thierry Letrilliart, who headed Dior Inc. for the past five years. Sabo will report to Dior managing director Michael Burke and be based in New York.
“Being an American, Marla Sabo brings with her extensive knowledge of that market,” said Toledano. “Her experience working with a French brand was also attractive.”
Prior to her post at Hermes, Sabo was vice president and divisional merchandising manager of European and American designer collections at Saks Fifth Avenue, where she spent 10 years.
Before that, she was at Bergdorf Goodman. Toledano said Letrilliart was relocating to Europe to pursue other projects, which have yet to be defined.
“Thierry’s contribution to the brand has been tremendous,” said Toledano. “Under his guidance, business has thrived in the U.S. and he has helped orchestrate the expansion of our sales network.”
Revenue for Dior’s 24 freestanding American stores increased 58 percent last year, according to Toledano.
Toledano said Sabo will spearhead the continued development of Dior units in the U.S. “The potential in the U.S. is tremendous,” he said.
“This year, we will open several new shops, including a new space on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.” He declined to provide further details. Toledano said the selection of Sabo was also influenced by her experience working with French companies on American terrain.
“Marla has merchandising savoir-faire and knows how to control an image,” said Toledano. “These qualities will be important in our drive to open more shops. We have found the right partner to optimize our development.”
Toledano said Sabo will assume her new role within the next few weeks.
As reported in WWD, Dior has been forging ahead with a wide-ranging development plan. In 1999, the house opened a Fifth Avenue flagship in New York and launched a fine jewelry collection. In 2000, 19 stores were opened worldwide. This year, another 20 are slated to bow, including units in Brussels, Milan, Jakarta and San Francisco’s Union Square.
Last week, the house unveiled its new Dior Homme collection, designed by Hedi Slimane, the star designer who joined Dior from Yves Saint Laurent. Slimane’s show earned wide acclaim.
Sabo’s appointment wasn’t the only news from Dior Friday. Toledano said Dior has signed a lease to open its first shop in Madrid, as well as a shop near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
Located on key shopping thoroughfare Ortega Y Gasset, the Madrid shop will be about 4,000 square feet and is expected to open in September.
“It’s a top location, next to Chanel and many other luxury houses,” said Toledano.
The Roman site, near existing Prada and Gucci units, is slated to open in the first half of this year, according to Toledano.
Dior operates 93 Christian Dior shops worldwide.