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26 May

Zadig & Voltaire’s Latest North American CEO Kristen Sosa

Since assuming the reins as North American chief executive officer of Zadig & Voltaire, Kristen Sosa’s top priorities are to expand the brand’s retail footprint, increase its accessories business, and lift overall awareness of the Paris-based brand.

A 28-year industry veteran, Sosa spent 23 years at Saks Fifth Avenue, rising to executive vice chairman and chief merchant for Gilt Groupe and Saks Off Fifth and was senior vice chairman, merchandising and digital for the full-line side. She later joined Olivela as chief merchant and senior adviser and became president, Americas at Marc Jacobs.

After doing a little consulting, Sosa realized that she enjoyed all points of being at a brand. “I missed running a business and leading a team,” said Sosa, who joined Zadig & Voltaire this spring.

Sosa said she was acquainted with the Zadig brand from her years of traveling to Europe. “I at all times shopped the brand, I loved the aesthetic and vibe of the brand and it was a brand that at all times resonated with my style,” she said. She said the Zadig & Voltaire customer is each a younger, edgier fashion girl and a classy shopper.

Considered one of her top priorities is to expand the brand’s own retail footprint in North America, where it has 30 freestanding stores. The brand views Texas as an enormous opportunity for retail stores, and can add stores in Manhattan’s Tribeca (in June) and Los Angeles and Georgetown, Washington D.C., later this yr. Stores that carry the brand include Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

Remy Baume, Zadig & Voltaire’s global CEO, said she looks for Sosa to proceed accelerating its North American business growth, and particularly the accessories segment.

“Along with her significant experience in our luxury industry within the region, her strong leadership style finely complements that of our management committee. Kristen will likely be instrumental in increasing the share of Zadig & Voltaire’s accessories category in North America to match the extent of Europe, i.e., 50 percent,” said Baume.

At present, accessories account for 30 percent of the North American business and the corporate is seeking to get it to 45 percent of the business over the following two to 3 years, said Sosa. The accessories comprise handbags, which she says “have been explosive,” in addition to footwear, small leather goods and jewellery. Handbags retail from about $400 to $900, with some embellished and studded bags going as high as $1,000. Zadig & Voltaire recently introduced a recent Le Cecilia bag, which averages within the $600 range but goes as much as $1,000 and has been very strong.

The third priority is to extend brand awareness through social channels, VIP partners, and the image campaign established by headquarters. “The digital channel goes to drive it,” she said.

In North America, retail (owned stores and concessions) accounts for 60 percent of the business, digital is about 30 percent, and wholesale is 10 percent. The corporate declined to disclose North American and overall volume.

Turning to ready-to-wear, Sosa said dresses have been very strong, and tops are doing well. “Our blazers are the strength of our business,” she said.

She said summer deliveries have just began hitting the selling floor and are selling briskly. “We’re seeing a pleasant increase in our retail channels. Over the past couple of years, the brand has seen strong year-over-year growth. In a troublesome climate, we’re seeing really strong results,” said Sosa.

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