Kroll Opens Up About WSA Exec Changes

LOS ANGELES — ENK International is bringing back a familiar face.

ENK Chairwoman and founder Elyse Kroll told Footwear News that Maria Carvalho, who previously oversaw the Sole Commerce show, has rejoined ENK as acting show director for The Collections at WSA and Sole Commerce, following last month’s departure of former WSA Collections Director Leslie Gallin.

Gallin, who joined WSA in 2004, is now VP of footwear at the Magic trade show.

“Maria has deep contacts in the footwear industry,” Kroll said. “She knows everybody who participates in Collections and will be a great help in terms of merchandising both Collections and Sole Commerce.”

Earlier this month, ENK also hired Thomas Nastos as president of the company. “He has an [extensive] background in footwear, so he’s guiding us,” said Kroll, adding that the group is continuing to look for a new WSA head to replace Diane Stone.

In the meantime, Kroll said ENK is moving ahead with improvements to the WSA Show, including an expansion of The Box, more lounges on the show floor, cleaner aisles and more logical product adjacencies to make the buying experience easier for attendees.

While she wasn’t ready to announce details, Kroll said The Collections at WSA would also be overhauled. “There are brand-new eyes looking at Collections, and we’re trying to figure out how to make it better for 2009 and beyond,” she said. “It could serve a bigger purpose, and I believe it could have a bigger audience.”

Efforts are also under way to bring both the August and February editions under one roof.

Currently, the February venue is split between the Sands Expo & Convention Center and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. “It’s the first thing on the drawing board,” said Kroll. “We want to make this show retailer- and exhibitor-friendly. If it’s feasible, we will do it.”

 Kroll stressed that despite the change in leadership of the show, ENK remained devoted to WSA’s success. “We’re not just watching it,” she said. “We’re investing in it.”

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