Designer Fall Outlook: Brighter Skies Ahead And More Deals, Too

As firms look again to acquisitions as a means of survival, new power bases are established in a matter of weeks - and there’s more action on tap.

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“Everyone understands that the consumer is being encouraged to buy on sale if fall merchandise is on sale before the season really begins,” Murry said. “Having strong selling throughout the season makes a collection less likely to be included in any conversations about early break dates. Fall really shouldn’t be on sale before December.”

Michael Kors and Donna Karan are similarly building their plans under new management, both with the strategy of refining their product and distribution for a market that is increasingly competitive at all price points. Both companies have significantly added to their advertising budgets for fall.

“Deals that make sense at any given time are always worth exploring,” said Allison Ryba, interim president of Michael Kors. “As far as a bad retail environment, our business is showing strong signs of growth. We had a very successful trunk show on Madison Avenue, as well as at our retail partners across the country. All in all, we see a very strong market ahead for the collection.”

John Idol, chief executive officer of Kasper ASL, a company that is expected to be the subject of a heated auction next month in bankruptcy court, also expects the third and fourth quarters to show some improvement for the apparel industry in general. Kellwood opened the bidding for Kasper with a $163 million offer last month, while others acquisitive minding companies like Jones, Claiborne, or a combination of Kasper management with Stroll and Chou, could heat up the bidding.

“I think we have hit the bottom,” Idol said. “While it’s not going to be a robust third and fourth quarter, we should see positive gains in the apparel business. We’ve been in a very tough environment for the past three or four years, and the consumer recognizes there is eventually going to be a need for clothes.”
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