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This article was prepared for the December 19, 2001 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
She loves to shop, she has been a fashion plate since
high school, and she owns at least 20 handbags, maybe more. For Marti
Carroll, above, her position as CEO of Longchamp USA — the
accessories manufacturer — is a dream job.
Carroll has moved Longchamp USA from 7,000 square feet in four
warehouses on South Gold Drive to 35,200 feet on Route 130 North in
Yardville and has a new phone and fax. At this location she has 13
to 18 workers plus four regional managers and two independent sales
Founded in the 1940s, Longchamp is a family firm known for upscale
leather accessories that are manufactured in Segre, outside of Paris.
"Longchamp is a great company — the family is just really
wonderful," she says. "They are very smart, very warm people.
They let me run my own operation here."
Surely someone who works for Longchamp has a handbag fetish. "I
have been in the industry a long time, and I must own 20 handbags,
maybe more," she admits. "I usually like large bags even
I am rather petite, and contrary to what most people prefer, I like
an open top rather than a zip top."
Handbags comprise 80 percent of her business, but Longchamp also
three collections of luggage, plus scarves, ties, and some jewelry.
Though she presents 15 new collections a year, the core of the
business is in five collections: tumbled calfskin, nature (simple
classic lines with no hardware), Roseau (with bamboo hardware), Pliage
(folding bags) and Planete (a dressier version of the folding bags,
trimmed in same color leather).
Carroll grew up near Norristown, Pennsylvania, where her father was
an engineer and her mother taught home economics. She graduated from
Penn State in 1967 with a degree in fashion merchandising, and is
therefore one of those unusual people that actually graduated in the
field they end up in. She had a traditional retail career, rising
to group vice president of the Federated chain before joining the
French firm in 1995. She and her husband, a civil engineer for
Engineering, live in Washington Crossing, and their newly married
son works for Intel.
Carroll’s success, she believes, is keyed to her protecting the brand
image. Her limited distribution policy runs counter to the strategy
of the Gucci and Fendi brands, which can be found on nearly every
department store shelf. She limits distribution to Longchamp boutiques
in New York, Boston, and Palm Beach and to upscale department stores
such as Saks and Nordstrom’s. A select number of independent
such as Luttman’s, the family-owned leather store on Witherspoon
are also allowed to carry the Longchamp line. And no, she does not
run warehouse sales.
"I also increased our national advertising very dramatically,
I felt it was key to building our brand identity." She does not
have an ad agency; the ads come from the Paris headquarters. Her
Elle, Harpers Bazaar, In Style, Town and Country, New York Times.
She has also placed her product in movies such as "Stepmom"
and the new "Vanilla Sky." "Michael J. Fox was just in
the store purchasing Christmas presents," she says, "and has
allowed us to use his name."
Though Carroll says she owns "some Armani," dress at Longchamp
is business casual. Another welcome change from retailing is her
Retail employees notoriously have to work nights and weekends, so
a nine to five job seems like heaven. "I have been known to come
in here on a Sunday," she says, "but these are great
08620. Marti Carroll, CEO. 609-581-5555; fax, 609-581-5559. Home
Highland Insurance, based on Lenox Drive, is in such
financial difficulties that trading on its stock was halted on
Formerly known as American Reinsurance, the company is selling off
the less profitable parts of its business. On December 14 it sold
servicing rights to 5,200 flood insurance policies, representing $2.1
million in premiums, to Selective Insurance Group, based in
Two top officers have left. John W. Cowley was promoted to CEO and
Stephen L. Kibblehouse to president and COO, with Albert J. Marino
as CFO and treasurer. The company’s net loss was $65 million for the
first three quarters of this year.
Box 6426, Lawrenceville 08648-6426. John W. Cowley, CEO. 609-896-1921;
fax, 609-219-1774. Www.highlandsinsurance.com
Princeton 08540-5052. Janet L. Boudris, CEO. 609-734-0300; fax,
Janet L. Boudris, former vice president of Cingular Wireless, has
replaced Sri Sridharan at the top of the team for Broadbeam, the
platform provider. Founder Boris Fridman remains as board chairman
of the company, formerly known as Nettech Systems.
Princeton 08540. 609-606-3000; fax, 609-606-3297.
Princeton eCom, a provider of electronic billing and payment services,
announced the resignation of Curtis R. Welling as chief executive
officer and the appointment of Craig Kirsch as interim chief executive
officer. It has also just received $13 million in private equity
Boulevard, Ewing 08618. Steven Abramson, president. 609-671-0980;
fax, 609-671-0995. Www.universaldisplay.com
Universal Display Corporation did not sign a joint venture agreement
with Sanyo and Kodak as reported in the December 12 issue. Instead
an official from UDC merely commented on how the Sanyo/Kodak agreement
bodes well for the organic light emitting devices (OLED) industry.
UDL has, nevertheless, signed an agreement with Sony Corporation and
Samsung SDI to develop next generation display technologies.
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