Byline: Janet Ozzard

NEW YORK — After personally announcing his resignation to GFT’s executive committee, Ron Frasch has left the president’s post at GFT USA after four years.
Frasch, who could not be reached for comment, read a letter to the executive committee of the apparel manufacturing giant Thursday and left the company that day, according to a committee source. Frasch’s decision to leave was personal, say sources, but could have been precipitated by a restructuring of GFT’s global operations that put more power in the Italian headquarters. The structure had GFT’s designer licensors — currently, that includes Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Antonio Fusco and Joseph Abboud — working closely with global sourcing teams to track the production and pricing of their collections.
While this was supposed to create more efficient economies of scale over the long term, the moves weakened GFT USA’s position, making it more of a coordinator and less of a manager in the corporation. There were also minimal layoffs in the U.S. office.
At the time the restructuring was announced last December, it was widely speculated that Frasch would inevitably leave.
GFT declined to comment on Frasch’s departure. His next step could not be learned. However, a source close to GFT, which is owned by troubled industrial group HdP, said on Thursday that Frasch had thanked the committee and stressed that he had enjoyed his time at the company, but that he was relinquishing his responsibilities, effective immediately. He also told members that he would let them know shortly of his plans.
The move comes after HdP stepped back from a bid for the Calvin Klein business. As reported in these columns, in the wake of continued losses, HdP is pulling back from its fashion businesses — it also owns Valentino and Fila — to focus on the more profitable media ventures. Market rumors include possibilities that HdP could sell off Valentino, spin off the publicly quoted Fila as a separate company, and possibly sell GFT.
Frasch had reportedly been offered a post in the U.S. working with HdP’s publishing arm, Rizzoli Corriere della Sera, but he declined. Frasch, a fashion industry veteran, had spent two years as president of Escada USA before taking the GFT post in July 1996. Before Escada, he had been at Neiman Marcus for 10 years, rising to senior vice president and general merchandise manager of women’s.

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