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Spring 15 will herald Nicole Farhi rebirth

Nicole Farhi chief executive Martin Mason says spring 15 will see the first steps in the rebuilding of the brand, which last week parted company with creative director Jo Sykes.

“We have begun the process of putting Nicole Farhi back where it belongs,” said Mason, “but we would rather do things than talk about doing them.”

A new handbag and leather goods collection is being sold to stockists for spring 15 – bags will retail for about £395 to £495 – while a new ecommerce site is scheduled to go live at the end of October.

But the company is still being urged to clarify its long-term strategy to potential stockists. As exclusively revealed by Drapers last week, Sykes left after less than two years in the role and it is not known if the former Aquascutum designer will be replaced.

Her departure is the latest change in what has been a turbulent period for the company. Chief executive Niki Scordi quit in May 2012. Her successor François Steiner lasted less than a year and Nicole Farhi was put into administration in July 2013.

It was bought by Matalan heiress Maxine Hargreaves-Adams, who hired Mason, formerly chief executive of Lulu Guinness, four months ago to lead the turnaround.

The brand, which has collections for men and women, lost stockists before its collapse and these are likely to be primary targets to be won back.

Janine O’Keefe, owner of womenswear independent Okeefe in Esher, Surrey, a former stockist of Nicole Farhi, said: “It’s very sad to see such an iconic brand going this way. They have had troubles over the last few years and the structure has been quite erratic. I stopped stocking the diffusion brand [Farhi by Nicole Farhi] a few years ago as it wasn’t very inspiring and there were a few quality issues. It was too expensive for what the product was and the sell-through wasn’t great.”

Meanwhile the chief executive of a premium high street retailer said Sykes’ departure was a “huge shame” and warned the company had to reassure stockists: “In order to [do this] they need a three-year plan. The business has been dogged financially for five years and that has to have been hard on the design team.”

Whistles chief executive Jane Shepherdson added: “They have to go back to square one and see what they want to be, not what they were.”

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