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Limited Brands To Drain Every Last
Bit Of Prestige From Henri Bendel

It's true that it has been only about 20 years since Henri Bendel was a fabulous little department store at 10 West 57th Street that was pretty much the epicenter of exclusive New York chic. We'll admit that it's hard to bitch too much about something that has essentially been dead for 20 years or so, but it's still sad to see the name become ever more banal. Limited Brands, which bought the store from legendary retailer Geraldine Stutz in the late 1980s, has announced that they are turning it back into a chain (again) after a successful test of it as a beauty and accessory store in four mall locations. WWD tells us that the new chain will add six more units by the end of the year emphasizing private label goods -with more details to follow tomorrow.
Anyone who remembers the Stutz era on West 57th Street will be cringing at the use of "Bendel" and "Mall" in the same phrase right about now.
To emphasize the new reanimated zombie form of Henri Bendel, the Fifth Avenue flagship will be downsized to to two floors, and all apparel will be dropped from the store's merchandise mix.
We could go on and on detailing the store's sporadic decline under Limited's ownership, but that just just kind of makes us sound old and crotchety. Let's just say that Bendel's-in-the-mall just doesn't sound right to us.
Henri Bendel to Expand (WWD)

According to today's WWD, all the new Henri Bendel branch stores will carry only private label merchandise designed by a new in-house team, and Bendel's president Ed Bucciarelli hopes to collaborate with designers for exclusive lines. Only the Fifth Avenue store will continue to carry third-party labels. Frédérick Fekkai will remain on the fourth floor, but the fate of Chocolate Bar on the third is up in the air, as is the status of the store's Vice-President and Fashion Director Ann Watson (who is probably polishing up her resume as you read this).
Bendel's Focuses on New Strategy (WWD)


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