Harrods

So the rumours were true, and Stacey Cartwright, the ex-Burberry CFO who left that brand last February, has landed at Harvey Nichols as CEO. She’ll start next month. Goody. After all, Ms Cartwright’s appointment underscores two important trends in the fashion industry: first, the action in the department store world, where the fight for consumer attention and wallets is escalating to new heights; and second, the rise of the female executive in a world that, ironically, has long been run by men. Read more >>

The news yesterday that Marigay McKee (left, with Michael Kors), former Chief Merchant of Harrod’s, was moving to New York to become President of Saks was interesting — but not as interesting as the news today that Richard Baker, the new owner of the store chain (and a sudden department store mogul along the lines of Galen Weston: he also owns Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay) was planning a $200 million refit of the flagship. $200 million on one store? If I was a speculating gal – and you know I am – I would guess this means the Fifth Ave branch is going WAY upmarket. WAY upmarket. And you know what that means? We have new strategy in the department store wars. Read more >>

Oooooh, I sense another Fashion Week trend! After the Qatari sovereign wealth fund bought Harrod’s in 2010, and an un-named Qatari bought a large minority chunk of Anya Hindmarch in August – and following the Qatari royal Family’s purchase of Valentino the month before — now a private equity fund, AGC, backed by Middle Eastern investors, has taken the bulk of the minority stake in UK ready-to-wear brand Amanda Wakeley, a go-to label for the Duchess of Cambridge (that’s her, wearing AW, in both photos below). Does no one else think something significant is going on? Read more >>

Let’s do a quick recap here: in the last two years the Qatari soverign wealth fund has bought all of Harrod’s and a 5.2% stake in Tiffany’s; the Qatari royal family bought Valentino; and yesterday, it was announced that An Unnamed Qatari Investor had bought 38% of Anya Hindmarch. There’s a new luxury player in the land, and he – or she — is spending! But who is this masked man? And why are the Qataris suddenly making such a big play in luxury? Read more >>

The other day I got a nice email informing me that Marigay McKee, formerly Harrods’ Fashion & Beauty director, had been promoted to “Chief Merchant Officer,” a relatively new title in the luxury world as far as I can tell (and one not to be confused with that other CMO, chief marketing officer), but one that, I think, reflects not just a titular promotion, but a systemic change in industry thinking.  Read more >>

Yesterday, for the first time, Antonio Tajani, the European Commission’s VP for industry, met with a bunch of luxury companies like Chanel, Dior, Pucci, MaxMara and Harrods to talk about what the brands and the EU might be able to do for each other. Wait — the first time? Yes, weird as that may sound, after two years of lobbying, the ECCIA (European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance) finally succeeded in getting Brussels’ attention. Read more >>

The Jones Group, the American contemporary megalith that owns such brands as Nine West, Stuart Weitzman, and Dockers (plus 32 others), has just announced they have acquired Kurt Geiger from private equity group Graphite Capital for gBP 215 million. This is a big deal.

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So eBay has gotten itself a creative director, in the form of ex-Lucky mag staffer Andrea Linett, to gloss-up its fashion offerings. At least we know they can recognize a trend when they see one.

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