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  • Nick Monjo

Sarmiento Promoted, Gorman Out At Triumph

Triumph announced key management changes in mid June for its organization on this continent, including the immediate exits of John Gorman, general manager North America and Isabelle Stahl, head of product management.

The Swiss-based international lingerie firm added, in a letter to personnel, “Tracey Sarmiento, former head of wholesale US/CA, is appointed commercial director North America effective 1 June 2017. She will support the organization as acting head of Triumph North America” and will serve as co-site leader with Isaac Aframian. The latter will “continue in his role as head of finance and operations and will be responsible for all administrational services.”

The announcement declared, “We would like to thank John for his efforts in building up our North American division since 2014 and for starting to put a Triumph footprint in the U.S.”

It is interesting to consider that one of Gorman’s contributions was to actually help curtail the expansion of Triumph-owned stores in the U.S. At a press event in the summer of 2013, before Gorman took over, the company announced the impending opening of two Long Island, NY shops, one in the Roosevelt Field mall, the other in the Walt Whitman mall. “This Fall 2013, Triumph is making its debut within the US. This is a new phase in their path of international expansion,” the company stated. At the July party company executives talked of an upcoming SoHo location as well as other stores around the country.

Another aspect of Triumph’s original plans for retail expansion involved Journelle, the New York City chain of which the company acquired a “majority stake” at the end of 2012. As it announced the deal, a company press release boasted Triumph’s involvement would “drive the successful expansion of the Journelle business model across the U.S.” And Claire Chambers, founder and CEO of Journelle, said “We have found a strong partner with whom we can set about to grow both our online and brick and mortar business.”

But in the following years very little retail expansion took place. In early 2014 the Westfield Garden State Plaza shopping center announced a Triumph store would open in March, but that never occurred. For a little over a month in 2014, from August 4 to September 10, a “House of Triumph” pop-up store opened (and then closed) in Manhattan’s Little Italy. In October of 2015, Chambers resigned as CEO just a single new Journelle store opened in Chicago

Today, although the company boasts on its UK website that there are 1,650 Triumph shops worldwide (down from over 2000 just a few years ago), the two Long Island shops are the only examples in the U.S. And there are still only three Journelle shops in New York and one in Chicago.

At the end of 2014 Gorman admitted, in a message to BODY, that the company had changed its mind about aggressive retail expansion here. “Retail is part of our overall strategy for the USA but I have altered the chronology,” he explained. “I prefer wholesale development first to enable consumers to find the brand as opposed to retail which is a narrower market penetration. We are in negotiations with a number of selected department stores here in the USA. We are also growing the specialty channel as we believe in the high importance of these.”

Another move made under Gorman’s watch in North America was the closing of Triumph’s Canada office, which happened during 2014. “We did indeed close [the] Canada office as I prefer the team in one place for efficiency, communication, etc.” he told BODY.

Commenting on the exit of Stahl, the latest Triumph announcement noted she had been “responsible for all product and pricing decisions,” and “left the company with immediate effect. Her duties will be newly distributed between the team until a final solution can be announced.” — NM


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