Luella Bartley is in major trouble. On Tuesday, Club 21, the brand's global licensee and distributor, walked away from almost seven year relationship and the label ceased its trading.
Club 21's subsidiary, VSQ Ltd., issued a statement saying that it had "taken the decision not to invest further in its relationship with Luella Bartley Ltd." It further continued that because of the unexpected closure last month from a key producer, Carla Carini, the company was unable to fill upcoming spring orders that had just been seen at the London Fashion Week in September.
Though the departure from Club 21 is a bit of a shock, it should have been seen coming as there was no other option. Club 21 had not been making their quarterly profit margins lately. Last year, Club 21 named Regis Rimbert the president of Luella with a mandate to "take the brand to the next level." This meant elevating the quality of the collections, as well as taking a more commercial approach, while positioning the brand to stand with Miu Miu and Chloe.
Also, for the past six months, industry sources say that Bartley had been restructuring the business and made a small indication that a part with Club 21 could be forthcoming.