Eden Prairie-based home shopping network Evine Live has quietly ditched plans to work with celebrity Jane Fonda on an exclusive line of fitness clothes for women over 50.
The partnership was announced last fall with great fanfare, and an on-air launch had been expected on July 5 to coincide with Fonda’s appearance the next day at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts in St. Paul.
Evine’s new chief executive, Tim Peterman, said Tuesday that the collaboration ended when he decided to shutter the Los Angeles office in May in a downsizing effort that trimmed 20% of corporate and executive staff.
“When we closed it down, we just decided to go separate ways,” said Peterman, who took over as top executive of the struggling home-shopping retailer in May and was not involved in the agreement with Fonda.
Representatives for Fonda declined to comment on the decision.
The Evine staff in Los Angeles had been working directly with Fonda to develop an “athleisure” line that would have been sold on Evine’s TV networks and in select retail stores.
The parties signed a three-year services and trademark licensing agreement in November, and Fonda was to appear on the Evine network throughout the year to discuss the products.
Evine was a sponsor of the event at the Ordway, though Fonda never mentioned the connection during her time on stage discussing her career and storied life as an actress, activist and author.
Peterman declined to say how much the decision would cost the company, which he is trying to return to profitability. The channel, which is being rebranded to its previous name of ShopHQ, ranks third behind QVC and HSN in home shopping.
The company reported a worse-than-expected loss of $21 million, or 31 cents a share, in the first quarter.
Landing Fonda, a fitness guru and co-star of the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie,” was billed as a way to serve Evine’s core baby boomer demographic and to boost its Los Angeles operation, whose mission was to develop higher-margin exclusive and propriety products.
But Peterman, who previously was Evine’s chief financial officer, is recalibrating the network’s retail mix by scaling back on fashion and focusing more on beauty, jewelry and health products.
He said the mission of the Los Angeles office, which opened in April 2018 under previous CEO Bob Rosenblatt, didn’t fit with his strategy of “fit and focus,” particularly because some brands might be distributed to department stores and other retailers before it hit its own airwaves.
“We need all hands on deck on growing this enterprise,” he said. “That being ShopHQ, the art of TV retailing, getting brands on our air.”
It’s unclear how far along the products were in coming to market or what Fonda’s next move might be. Women’s Wear Daily reported that Fonda was expecting to launch on Evine with 25 items, including T-shirts, sports bras and leggings ranging from extra small to 3X.
“Since the L.A. office is no longer, I believe Jane’s going to go on with her ambition around clothing,” Peterman said. “She’s just not going to do it with us.”