Friday, July 27, 2007

Calling a Spade a ???

It's arrividerci Kate & Andy.

The husband-wife team Kate and Andy Spade are walking away from their eponymous company following the end of the service agreement they reached when acquired by Liz Claiborne last November. They will leave their posts - designer and ceo respectively, by the end of next week.

"This is a hard decision, and I feel very emotional about it," said Kate. "But the emotions would be more about melancholy if I thought we weren't doing the right thing. We are with the right partners — we wouldn't make this decision otherwise. This an opportunity for employees, the fabulous teams we have in place, to take the baton and run away with it."

Both will stay on as members of the brand's board, which will also be comprised of Claiborne ceo William L. McComb, exec. vp of Claiborne's direct-to-consumer division Jill Granoff and some soon to be named Kate Spade execs including a new ceo and head designer.

WWD reports, "Their exit comes at a pivotal time for the company, just as Claiborne has put the accessories brand on a course for fast growth. "This has been something I've struggled with for the last six or seven months, but this isn't a situation where we are losing the founders," McComb said in an interview. "They so embody what the brand ideal is, and they have created very scalable DNA. I am very comfortable we can build right on top of what they have been very successful at."

Citing personal reasons for stepping aside (including spending time with their 2-year-old daughter), "Andy Spade said he and his wife fully endorse the direction Claiborne is taking their brand, and that they will 'be as involved as we need to be' going forward. 'It's our name, and we will be haunting them forever to make it right,' he said. "It's our turn to take a break, though. We've been working straight for 13 years now."

As for that direction, Claiborne has growth on the mind. It intends on opening a whopping 80 new Kate Spade boutiques over the next three years.