Nicole Farhi’s new chief executive Martin Mason has pledged to return the brand to its former heights and is looking ahead to international expansion once its UK business is back on track.
Speaking exclusively to Drapers on his first week on the job, the former Lulu Guinness chief executive said he would spend his first three months getting “under the skin of the brand” before building his strategy.
But international is already high on the agenda, with Mason saying it would be a “key focus”. The priority, however, is re-establishing it in the UK.
“Nicole Farhi is a luxury designer business with a very distinct point of view that has maybe been lost in more recent times,” he said, acknowledging some of the quality issues that had driven stockists away in past seasons.
“I was aware before I joined of the issues the business has faced in the past few years. Both Maxine [Hargreaves-Adams, owner] and I are keen to return Nicole Farhi back to where it belongs - a true British brand, but one that is affordable.”
He praised the team, particularly creative director Joanna Sykes, who has been creating a new brand identity under Hargreaves-Adams, and who he said had “the right design ethos, taste and punch that the brand needs”.
“There is a great team here and I’m looking forward to working with them, and putting Nicole Farhi on the map,” he added.
Mason is the first chief executive of the troubled womenswear and menswear label for nearly a year following the surprise departure of François Steiner in May 2013.
Hargreaves-Adams, who acquired Nicole Farhi out of administration last July for an undisclosed sum, revealed in February she was hunting for a new chief executive to “restore the brand’s reputation”.
As well as Lulu Guinness, Mason has held senior positions at knitwear brand Pringle of Scotland and luxury accessories labels Mulberry, Tanner Krolle and MCM.