NEW YORK — Ed Burstell, who helped lead a renaissance at Henri Bendel, is leaving his job as vice president and general manager.
This story first appeared in the July 14, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After a summer sabbatical, Burstell, 46, said he plans to return to do consulting work for the Fifth Avenue retailer, which is owned by Limited Brands. However, Burstell also said he is considering other internationally based retail projects outside the company.
“I’m leaving at a time when business is in amazing shape,” he said in a telephone interview. “It has had incredible traction for the last several years and probably more visibility now than at any time in my tenure.”
Bendel’s has not determined whether the firm will hire a replacement for Burstell or restructure management. Earlier this year, Bendel’s hired a chief executive officer, Michael McCadden, who had been the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Priceline.com. Previously, he was an executive vice president at Gap Inc.
“For the past six years, [Ed] has been very involved in the day-to-day running of the organization, and he has suggested that a better use of his skills at this point, after all of the time that he spent here, would be something more strategic,” a Bendel’s spokeswoman said. “And the company agreed with that. So he’ll have the opportunity to take on a different role that will better utilize his expertise, where he can focus more on specific areas of interest — namely, fashion and beauty.”
During his 16 years at Bendel’s, Burstell, who started there as a cosmetics buyer, was credited with putting the store back on the map. Along with raising the retailer’s visibility, he brought back Bendel’s trademark, “Street of Shops,” which now includes Diane von Furstenberg, Rick Owens, House of Field, Alice Temperley, Nuala, Catherine Malandrino and Flight 001. He also focused on growing the new designer business, built up the cosmetics business and reinstated the “Open See” for new designers.
Despite his achievements, Burstell said that all good things come to an end. “I knew it was time to take a breather when “Sex and the City” went off the air,” said Burstell with a laugh.
“He was one of the few people in New York who looks to help young designers and that’s one of the major obstacles in the industry,” said Miguel Adrover.
“He did a good job under the circumstances,” said retail consultant Marvin Traub, former chairman of Bloomingdale’s. Traub added that Burstell faced difficulties given that “Bendel’s is a small store in a big city with a lot of competition.”
— Anamaria Wilson