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GarfieldMarks: Fourth Time's A Charm?

The new owners of GarfieldMarks, which has changed hands for the fourth time in seven years, think they finally have a winning formula of private equity and...

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Almost the entire GarfieldMarks workforce moved over in the deal. But Rousso's back office replaced much of the operations end, including chief financial officer Harvey Schutzbank, one of the Harvé Benard executives to buy GarfieldMarks. After the end-of-year deal, Rousso created a group to expedite the integration of GarfieldMarks.

"We worked on a couple of Saturdays before Christmas," Rousso said, adding that within two weeks, GarfieldMarks was up and running and had already shipped $3 million.

The goal is to double sales in the next two years to $60 million — the brand's peak in the Nineties — by improving shipping, customer service and advertising, and expanding product offerings, including licensing. This is a long-term investment, rather than a private equity-style three- to five-year plan, Rousso said.

"The short-term goal is to get it back where it grows," Rousso said. "Then we will look to expand horizontally, not to take it downstairs."

GarfieldMarks jackets wholesale from $165 to $190 and pants sell for $80 to $95. The more casual Womyn line wholesales at $64 to $85 for pants and $85 to $115 for jackets.

"There wasn't a lot that needed repair in terms of the product," Sheer said. "It's selling in the stores, so it's all about getting the stuff out there."

Sheer plans to add New Frontier-inspired suede and leather pieces, plus more tops, to the Womyn line.

"The Womyn line is built on pants and it has an amazing following, but people want things to go with those pants," he said. "The Womyn line has huge amounts of upside."

Founded in 1993, GarfieldMarks peaked in the Nineties. Because of shipping problems and other difficulties, sales are now estimated at less than half the peak figure. Brand co-founders Alex Garfield and Bernie Marks sold half of the company to Pegasus Capital Advisors in 1999 for $26 million and soon left the firm, maintaining a 50 percent stake. Garfield returned in August 2004 when Jones Texas Inc., along with other financial groups, bought it for about $70 million. Plagued by poor fabric and design decisions and other problems under the new management, the company could not afford even to buy the fabric to fill orders. A crisis management team came in and the Harvé Benard executives bought the business for about $3 million. Soon after, Garfield departed.

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