Weitzman Hires, Focuses Abroad

Weitzman Hires, Focuses Abroad
Gaetano Sallorenzo joined Stuart Weitzman from Replay.

LOS ANGELES — Stuart Weitzman Holdings is on the expansion trail.

Following several top executive appointments, the company is sketching out plans for a deeper move into branded retail stores, a wider international reach and a full push into e-commerce.

Gaetano Sallorenzo, CEO of Italian denim company Replay, was tapped as CEO last week, while Wayne Kulkin was promoted to the post of president after 20 years with the company.

Sallorenzo will focus on developing the brand’s international presence, as well as pursuing new business opportunities. Kulkin will oversee the domestic and international wholesale and retail businesses.

Also, Giorgio Vicini, who has held posts at Christian Dior, Roberto Cavalli, DSquared, Balmain and Giuseppe Zanotti, has joined the company as chief manufacturing adviser.

Stuart Weitzman shoes and accessories are sold in more than 65 countries, with 33 retail stores in the U.S., and 35 locations in international markets including Canada, Mexico, Europe, Russia, China, Singapore and Australia, among other locales.

About 40 percent of the business is derived from overseas sales.

In addition to wholesale and retail growth globally, executives are betting on the online business.

“We really believe in e-commerce,” Sallorenzo told Footwear News. “We just launched our site in August and we’re seeing some strong responses. That’s an area where we’re going to [put our] focus.”

Weitzman said Vicini’s appointment will be key to maintaining product consistency as the company grows and penetrates new international markets.

The vast majority of Weitzman’s shoes are produced in company-owned facilities in Spain, but additional factories likely will be required to meet the demands of specific countries as the brand expands.

Weitzman stressed that, while the label’s growth may appear to be a direct result of The Jones Group purchasing a majority stake in the company in May, the plans had been developed internally and prior to the acquisition. (The company has been without a CEO since 2007.)

“This has nothing to do with Jones,” Weitzman said. “Everything that will come out in the next year or two is homegrown and will be executed by us. It doesn’t mean we won’t have wonderful help and support from our partners … but the initiatives that should add business and growth to our company will come from us.”

Regardless, Weitzman said the next couple of years will be an active time at the company. “It’s too early to say exactly what we’re going to do,” he said. “Many opportunities are being looked at.”

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