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The Buzz on Tommy: No Rush for New CEO Nor for Acquisitions

Despite mounting pressure from Wall Street to name a new ceo and make acquisitions, Tommy Hilfiger feels he still has plenty of time to take action.

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With rumors swirling daily about what company Tommy Hilfiger Corp. will acquire — or whether Hilfiger itself will be acquired — the designer wants to set the record straight:

He’s not making a bid for Nautica Enterprises;

Buying Sweetface Fashions is a possibility,

He doesn’t want to sell his company to Jones Apparel Group, VF Corp. — or any other firm for that matter.

“I have too much energy,” said Hilfiger. “At the same time, I love my brand and couldn’t imagine someone taking over. I could love another brand also if it fits with the multibrand and multi-channel strategy. It would not be competitive, but would bring added value and an enhancement [to my business].”

As reported, Hilfiger’s employment contract says the firm and its subsidiaries “cannot enter into any line of business” that the designer feels would be detrimental to the company’s trademarks. “One thing’s for sure,” said Hilfiger, “we’re going to make a very good choice. I don’t want to be hasty. I don’t want to do it because we have cash in our pockets. It has to be right for the shareholders and the growth of Tommy Hilfiger. If we don’t make an acquisition, so be it. I’m not going to feel forced to do it. We have healthy substantial businesses within Tommy Hilfiger.”

Last year, Hilfiger finished at the pinnacle of the 2001 compensation sweepstakes among apparel executives with $24.9 million in salary and bonuses, a 7 percent decline from the prior year.

So, first things first: Why doesn’t he want to make a run for Nautica?

“We already have a place in that segment. It wouldn’t give us the diversification I would need,” said Hilfiger.

And as far as Sweetface, he said, “Because it’s JLo [whose co-founder and director is his brother Andy], we’re familiar with how that business is run. We wouldn’t have to do the same type of due diligence. They’re doing so well on their own. They have so much growth, and they’re taking advantage of it. It is on the list of possibilities; however, nothing looks imminent.”
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