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As for Kellwood, which so far missed out on a major acquisition but remains on the hunt, Altman said the company is “very focused on their strategy.”
“They know what they want. They know they’re good in the moderate sector. Everyone finds their center and is opportunistic. M&A is still the way you need to grow if you’re a public company and need to answer to Wall Street. Wall Street is looking for high levels of growth and the industry on average grows 2 to 3 percent a year.”
VF, he said, has publicly stated it is interested in more designer labels. “Nautica helps them get there, but they may also be looking for more niche brands. They can get a niche brand with a brand visionary and support it with their sourcing which is second to none,” said Altman.
Here’s a look at the Big Five.
Headquarters: St. Louis
2002 Earnings: $42 million
2002 Revenues: $2.2 billion
Cash and cash equivalents on hand: $95.3 million
Strengths: Excellent production and sourcing capabilities and inventory management; its expertise has been honed in the moderate sector of the market and it likes to make value-oriented purchases in that category. Initially offered $164 million to acquire Kasper A.S.L. and later went as high as $203 million before being topped by Jones Apparel Group’s $216.6 million.
Kellwood recognized its inability to manage a higher-profile designer name, so it partnered with G.A.V. to win the license from Philips-Van Heusen for the CK Calvin Klein better women’s line as an insurance policy to better handle the brand. Strong in private label. It has bolstered its links to the youth market with deals with Russell Simmons for a license for Def Jam University in women’s and men’s wear.