LVMH APPOINTS CEO AT MARC JACOBS UNIT, LAUNCHES JAPAN PLAN
Byline: David Moin
NEW YORK — Marc Jacobs, an influential, high-profile designer who’s still a long way from big numbers, has a new chief executive officer.
Scott Bowman, a retailer with nearly a decade of experience in the luxury arena, on Wednesday, officially took the helm of Marc Jacobs International LLC, which is majority owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and minority owned by Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy, who remains president.
He joins the brand at a time when new licensing pacts to broaden Marc Jacobs offerings are in the works. Deals are expected to be announced soon.
He succeeds Thomas O’Neill, who a few months ago joined LVMH’s Watch & Jewelry Business Group. Duffy and Carolyn Risoli, president of the women’s ready-to-wear division, report to Bowman.
Bowman’s responsibilities cover all product categories, including the top-tiered Collection and the second-tier line called Marc.
“This is a new phase in the history of the company,” said Yves Carcelle, president of the LVMH Fashion Group, which aside from Marc Jacobs, includes Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Celine, Berluti, Kenzo, Givenchy, Christian Lacroix, Fendi, StefanoBi, Emilio Pucci and Thomas Pink.
Bowman reports to Carcelle, who also disclosed that on Tuesday the company signed a master long-term agreement for distributing Marc Jacobs products in Japan, jointly with Mitsubushi and Renown Look, representing a renegotiation of a previous agreement. Aside from extending the terms, one of the key provisions is that the Marc Jacobs Look line, which was exclusively distributed in Japan, will be renamed Marc so there’s more consistency and stronger recognition of the label internationally. The agreement also involves distribution of the collection.
Bowman, plucked from his office in Guam — where, since 1998, he served as mid-Pacific region president of LVMH majority-owned DFS Group — is now based at Marc Jacobs headquarters in SoHo here.
“Scott’s role will be to coordinate management of all the teams and push the company forward,” said Carcelle. He noted that the Marc Jacobs brand in totality, including, retail, wholesale, Collection and the secondary lines, does about $50 million in volume. “I am very excited that he has joined Marc Jacobs. Scott comes from the retail business. He knows international retailing, and his experience is complementary to the experience of our top managers at LVMH.”
As a DFS president, Bowman had responsibility for all merchandise, marketing and store operations for the biggest division, which operates 23 stores, including two 100,000-square-foot Gallerias in Guam and Saipan, and two large airport operations in the same locations. DFS stores sell top brands like Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci, but not Marc Jacobs. Bowman explained why. “DFS is almost entirely focused in Asia Pacific on the traveling Japanese customer, so it’s heavily accessories based. With Marc Jacobs, it would not be a strong strategic fit today, but it is certainly part of our thoughts for the future.”
Prior to DFS, Bowman was executive vice president of Bath & Body Works, where he started up a home division, which eventually was folded into the White Barn & Candle sister division.
Before that, he served as president and ceo of I. Magnin from 1993 to 1995, and presided over its closing after it was taken over by Federated Department Stores, through Federated’s acquisition of R.H. Macy & Co. While some observers believe Magnin’s future was bleak before he joined the store, Bowman said Wednesday that he was able to make Magnin’s profitable again, but that Federated had decided to shut it down anyway. At the time, Federated said that Magnin’s, a high-end specialty business, didn’t fit into the overall department store scheme of the corporation.
Prior to Magnin’s, Bowman had other jobs at Macy’s, including vice president of men’s wear for Macy’s West, a store director, and senior vice president for merchandise planning. He started his career in the executive training program at the former Maas Bros./Jordan Marsh chain in Florida, and rose to divisional merchandise manager of men’s wear.
He credited Myron Ullman 3rd, group managing director of LVMH, with bringing him to DFS, after previously working with Ullman at Macy’s.
“Mike was the reason I joined DFS,” Bowman said. “We were successful in growing sales and profits at DFS and the company was looking for a new opportunity for me. After three years in that assignment, the opportunity to move into the fashion group and work with Yves Carcelle and a creative genius like Marc was something very enticing. Really, Yves Carcelle made this happen, with Mike’s support.”
The Jacobs retail business is small. There are three owned stores, including two in New York and one in San Francisco. Asked about the retail stores, he said: “Right now retail is primarily [focused on] the collection stores and we will take some time to review the successes there and to develop a growth strategy in line with the size of the business. We could see a few additional stores between 2001 and 2002.”
As for the Marc secondary line, he said, it is “represented in a limited way” in the Jacobs stores.
Wholesaling represents a greater proportion of the business, with products selling at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York, among others.
“We see this business growing significantly both in ready-to-wear as well as accessories,” Bowman said. “My immediate responsibility will be to finalize [licensing] opportunities in new categories, such as eyewear, and fragrances, which we are in the process of doing. There are numerous categories especially in fashion accessories that will allow us to dramatically expand the reach of the brand.” He noted that shoes and handbags are currently produced in-house, but that strategy is under review. He also said business at Marc Jacobs is currently solid, especially the denim line, which is having high sell-throughs.
Naturally, he’s had limited contact with Marc Jacobs so far.
“I met Marc in the past at a few shows, and have had some time to talk to him recently,” Bowman said. “The thing I find amazing is his ability to keep a distinct personality to each collection that he designs, from the Marc Jacobs Collection to Marc by Marc Jacobs, to Louis Vuitton,” which Jacobs also designs for LVMH. “Until getting involved, I did not realize how distinct the collections are.”
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me to be part of a wonderful combination, with a creative genius like Marc and the financial resources of LVMH married together to make it happen.
“It’s great to be back in New York after 20 years away,” Bowman added. He grew up in Port Washington, N.Y., but did suggest that he might miss Guam, which he described as a beautiful tropical island, where the average daily temperature is in the mid-80s.