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Vestal ramping up Vans watch line

By Tiffany Montgomery
April 28, 2008 6:54 AM

I stopped by Vestal last week to find out more about its licensing group, whose latest partnership is with Vans. The licensing division accounts for 40 percent of Vestal's overall domestic sales.

Vestal and VansVestal launched Vans watches during holiday last year and is gearing up for back-to-school and holiday this year.

Licensing group COO Gary Crane, left, and General Manager Pete Kelly, right, believe the licensing agreement with Vans is a big opportunity. It widens the company's distribution channels and allows them to sell watches at lower price points - $40 to $100 - without conflicting with Vestal's higher-priced line.

"It doesn't compete with Vestal, it compliments Vestal," Pete said.

All together there are 50 to 60 SKUS in the Vans line. The watches are currently sold at Vans stores, surf, skate and snow shops, specialty stores such as Tilly's and Journeys and department stores, including Macy's.

"At that price point, it's tough (for retailers) not to try," Pete said.

Vestal and VansPete said they are not selling to the mid-tier that includes Kohl's and Mervyns.

Sales to the core stores grew 70 percent from holiday last year to spring this year, Gary said. Gary added they started from a pretty small number, however.

Because the price points are attractive and can turn faster at retail, Vestal hopes it will help expand the entire watch category at core stores, which can help all the watch companies in the industry, said Mike Patzold, licensing group vice president of sales.

Vestal works closely with Vans on the project, and Gary said the Vestal licensing group has learned a lot from working with Vans, a much larger company.

"They've brought us under their wing and taught us a lot," Gary said.

Vans Vice President Bill Bettencourt said the company choose to work with Vestal because it understands the Vans customer.

Vestal and Vans"Vestal shares a common consumer and distribution with Vans in general," he said. "This gives them a strong understanding of Vans position in the market and they can therefore produce products and programs consistent with our own. Vestal has done a great job of injecting Vans DNA into the watch line creating quality products that truly reflect the brand."

Pete told me there was some bumps in the road with the holiday launch last year, however, as higher metal prices and production problems in Hong Kong slowed manufacturing timetables for the entire watch industry. That led to missed shipping deadlines and some cancelled orders during the crucial holiday selling season.

By this holiday season, those issues will be ironed out and Vestal is aiming for a big season.



Vestal for LAMBVestal also has a licensing agreement with Paul Frank and Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B and Harajuku Lovers lines. Here is a L.A.M.B watch, right. L.A.M.B watches are sold in high end specialty and department stores, including Nordstrom.

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