This question remains unanswered for the moment, leading to all kinds of speculation about the future of this American company, founded and run by Killick Datta, which owns two brands, Nomass and DryShod, and holds the global footwear licenses for Nautica, Sean John and Seven for All Mankind. Officially Global Brand Marketing (GBMI) of Santa Barbara, California, closed down and dismissed all its employees on Nov. 2, and suspended its operations in Europe and other countries, but reports from the USA indicate that it has subsequently resumed some of its activities, rehiring a portion of the staff.

There is still no decision about the future of GBMI’s European office in The Netherlands, which was supposed to coordinate direct sales in some key markets. Last August, the company decided to work again with Action Sports for Germany and hired a new distributor in the UK, 7-Year Trip. Roelof de Leeuw, European manager of GBMI, has resigned and is going to work from next week as European sales manager of Crocs, replacing Oertwin Dellcoet who will instead become brand manager of Ocean Minded, the brand recently acquired by Crocs.

According to several sources, GBMI was not doing well financially lately, mainly because it had maintained a large staff, estimated at 150 people, in spite of the loss of the juicy Diesel footwear license and the disposal of Pony. These financial problems were probably related to the fact that GBMI did not pay for some Diesel merchandise to be delivered to U.S. customers for the Spring/Summer 2007 and Fall/Winter 2007/08 seasons, leading Diesel to terminate a distribution contract with GBMI for the U.S. market ahead of schedule from the beginning of this month, although the U.S. company had already conducted its sales campaign for the Spring/Summer 2008 season.

Because of the late deliveries and its failure to pay $16 million to its suppliers of Diesel shoes, GBMI and one of its financial backers were sued by Diesel in a U.S. court in New York.on Oct. 26. The court decided to give Diesel the right to ship some merchandise ordered by U.S. clients for the current selling season that was stuck in a warehouse in behalf of GBMI. Diesel is also shipping additional products ordered by U.S. retailers.

It probably was the fatal blow for GBMI, which has been selling between 1.5 million and 2 million pairs of Diesel shoes in the USA lately. GBMI’s licensing deal.with Diesel ended with the Spring/Summer 2007 season. Diesel has already taken over the distribution of the line in Europe, Japan, Canada and Hong Kong through its own offices, but it had agreed to give GBMI the rights to distribute the line in the USA because of its strong relations with numerous retailers.

Diesel has sought to position the Diesel footwear line in a higher segment of the market, in tune with its efforts in the apparel sector, but it has had mixed results so far, as some of the retailers who were selling its sneakers and other casual shoes have a hard time selling some of its new creative styles developed in-house. The change of distribution in the USA will lead Diesel to present some dressier models for a different kind of clientele at its New York showroom on Lexington Avenue during the FFANY show in New York next month, along with its new range of coordinated handbags.