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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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“It opens up a wide opportunity. We’re quite established in casual. We’ve never done suits. It’s a big opportunity,” said the designer. “Jones has its way of doing things, Calvin will have his way, and we’ll have ours. It’ll be more fun,” he said. Hilfiger said he won’t license the line, but will produce it in-house. “We’re extremely capable in our manufacturing and production system,” he said.

Hilfiger said the company currently manufactures and markets the H Hilfiger women’s line for its own specialty stores, and is considering rolling it out to department stores. “We have a dressy collection for our own specialty stores and it’s been very successful,” he said. He noted that the company has been working on the H women’s line for more than 18 months. “We’re talking about when it should hit department stores. The project is very much alive. It’s a matter of pulling the trigger and deciding when to offer it,” he said.

The line is overseen by Hilfiger’s sister, Ginny. It is run by Gary Sheinbaum, president of TH Retail, in collaboration with Christa Michalaros, who is president of misses’ sportswear, junior jeans and TH Woman.

Last fall, Hilfiger announced it would close 37 of its 44 U.S. specialty stores. Today the company has seven full-price stores in California, Florida, New Jersey and New York. Internationally, there are 293 freestanding stores in such cities as London, Montreal, Moscow, Dusseldorf, Saint-Tropez, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Athens, Tel Aviv, Israel, and Fukuoka, Japan. The company also has 107 outlet stores.

Some industry observers believe one of Hilfiger’s problems is that the company has ignored its inner-city ethnic customers and failed to connect with them, especially when it opened a lavish 19,000-square-foot flagship on New Bond Street in London and a 20,000-square-foot showcase store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Both of those stores have closed. But Hilfiger feels these stores were necessary for his image. “You always need an image vehicle to enhance the global viewpoint of the brand. You do it through flagship stores, models and advertising,” he said.
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