NEW YORK — There were indications that the Michael Michael Kors launch has not been as successful as hoped Wednesday as a second round of staffing cuts at the brand this week shed some 25 employees from the better line’s payroll.

Allison Ryba, president of licensing and retail, is the most high-profile departure. A spokeswoman said Ryba had resigned. Ryba had been interim president of Michael Kors from March through December last year, taking over from Barbara LaMonica and passing the reins to John Idol, who is chief executive officer of the firm.

The staff reductions come off a base of 160 employees at the firm in the spring.

Under the restructuring, the spokeswoman said, Gia Castrogiovanni, president of women’s better, adds responsibility for the women’s collection business. Brigitte Kleine, who was president of the Michael Kors Collection women’s division, takes on the role of senior vice president of merchandising for the collection and the better businesses. Kleine will continue to run the sales effort for the women’s collection business.

A source familiar with the situation said the Michael launch, which rolled out in several product categories, including women’s, men’s and accessories for fall, had run into some problems in its initial season, but that retailers were still upbeat about it.

Initially, there were some delays in getting Michael product to the stores and retailers complained of an inconsistent fit.

The collection also met with an increasingly crowded field in the better area, with new and revamped lines from powerhouses such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Jones Apparel Group, Liz Claiborne Inc., Tommy Hilfiger Corp. and Kellwood Co., which along with G.A.V. produces the Calvin Klein line under license.

The move comes a month after Anne Gorfinkle, who was vice president of women’s design for the better line, switched to working for the company on a part-time basis, and Dean Micklewhite, vice president of men’s design for Michael, resigned.

Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou, through Sportswear Holdings Ltd., acquired an estimated 85 percent of the design house in January 2003.

— Evan Clark

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.