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Neiman Marcus stores appear to be losing their grip on Gucci bags and other luxe goods since the swanky retailer emerged from bankruptcy last fall, The Post has learned.
Six months after shedding most of a punishing, $5 billion debt load through Chapter 11, the Dallas-based luxury chain is struggling to keep its stores stocked as it faces weakened ties with major fashion labels including Gucci, sources told The Post.
The relationship with Gucci looks particularly strained, insiders say. The iconic Italian fashion label, which charges more than $300 for a pair of rubber slides, is no longer available on the Neiman Marcus Web site. Only seven of its 37 stores now carry Gucci products, according to the site.
Before Neiman’s bankruptcy filing last spring, most of its stores had carried Gucci’s pricey wares, sources told The Post. And rival Saks Fifth Avenue continues to offer Gucci goods, including shoes and jewelry, both in stores and online.
“That Saks has all that merchandise and Neiman’s doesn’t is an indication of [a] falling out,” said one top industry source, noting that the two chains typically mirror each other’s offerings.
The apparent rift comes as Neiman Chief Executive Geoffroy van Raemdonck — who has racked up millions of dollars in bonuses before and since the bankruptcy — has been blasted by staffers for a tone-deaf approach to belt-tightening, flaunting his wealth in a glossy magazine spread last fall even as pink slips were being handed out.
It’s not just employees who have been getting stiffed. Vendors smarting from unpaid bills have been ramping down their business with Neiman, according to sources. Even the firms that provide insurance for deliveries to Neiman are tightening their terms or suspending coverage, according to company documents.
Delayed payments to suppliers as a result of the bankruptcy “have restricted, and may continue to restrict, our ability to purchase new inventory from certain vendors,” Neiman told investors in a confidential March 18 financial document, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.
Firms that insure deliveries, meanwhile, are “limiting or terminating coverage,” Neiman said in document, produced in conjunction with a recent $1.1 billion debt offering.
Neiman in a statement said it continues to have strong ties to its top vendors. “We have excellent and longstanding relationships with all our brands and any insinuation that this is not the case is categorically false. We’ve retained all of our top 50 brands,” the company said.
Gucci’s parent company, French luxury goods conglomerate Kering, which also owns Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The pandemic has been brutal for luxury stores and Neiman has been no exception. Moody’s Investors Service recently added Neiman to its bankruptcy watch list. Neiman’s in-store sales plunged 34 percent over the six months ended Jan. 30, while its online sales dropped 6 percent over the same period, according to the confidential March 18 financial document obtained by The Post.
The company in a statement said it’s “seeing double and triple digit increases in purchases from our top luxury groups compared to pre-COVID.” But in the document to investors it said quarterly sales through March 15 were on the decline versus last year, albeit showing signs of improvement.
Neiman staffers told The Post that sales are tanking partly because there’s less stuff available on shelves and in warehouses.
“The biggest complaint from the stores is lack of merchandise,” one Neiman employee told The Post. “We simply don’t have the stock we used to have.”
“From the store point of view there is concern about Louis Vuitton. The inventory is there but not as much as before. Or the selection has shrunk and there are fewer choices than in the past,” said the employee, who asked not to be identified.
A second Neiman employee said Kering’s non-Gucci luxury brands, including Balenciaga and ready-to-wear and Saint Laurent, are still available but have been harder to find in the stores and warehouses.
“I feel like I’m in a catch-22,” the sales rep said. “We must reach out to customers [but] then [we] find out we don’t have the stock either in store or in our warehouse.”
Some sources claim van Raemdonck’s massive cost cutting has worsened the situation. Neiman acknowledged in the March 18 document it has been losing talent, saying “several executives have departed the company in recent years.”
“We rely on the experience of our senior management, and their knowledge of our business and industry would be difficult to replace,” the document said. “Several executives have departed the company in recent years.”
About a dozen top executives have left or been pushed out over the past two years, according to press releases and sources close to the company. Among them was former head of merchandising Jim Gold, a 29-year veteran who left in 2019 and was succeeded by Lana Todorovich as president and chief merchandising officer.
Some industry sources claimed Todorovich — who previously worked for American fashion outlets Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein — lacked the same ties to European luxury labels.
“Fashion is a relationship business,” said a source close to the company. “There is very little institutional knowledge at Neiman Marcus now. Virtually everyone is gone from the previous regime.’”
Gary Wassner, chief executive of Hilldun Corp., which insures apparel shipments, confirmed that some of his clients are only providing goods to Neiman on a limited basis or under stricter payment terms.
“Everyone want to see some more performance now that they are out of Chapter 11,” he said.