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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“I’m not saying we wouldn’t want that again [double-digit increases]. We’d only get that kind of growth with an acquisition. To make the wrong kind of acquisition would be devastating to the company,” added Hilfiger.

Hilfiger admires Paul Charron’s strategy at Liz Claiborne, and thinks Juicy Couture “is a great little company,” and Claiborne’s acquisition of it was a smart move. “I look at his [Charron’s] philosophy and Claiborne’s become a strong umbrella brand organization.” He said Jones’s strategy is to be more moderate. He admitted that he had “early conversations” with Jones early this year. “Obviously we’re not interested in selling,” he said. “We’ll look at opportunities on a continual basis, but I don’t want to sell.”

Asked why he thinks Nautica is exploring selling its company, Hilfiger said Nautica has different needs than his company. “Nautica is a brand. We’re a designer brand. We have different types of situations. Nautica doesn’t have a women’s business, we have a women’s business which is exceeding our men’s business. We have a children’s business and a licensing business. Our strength is we’re multifaceted and in men’s, women’s and children’s, and we’re very powerful in our European business,” he said.

As for the search for a new ceo, which is being handled by Herbert Mines Associates, Hilfiger said, “We’ve met a lot of different people. We’re casting a wide net. We’re looking inside and outside the industry, and it’s the way to go. Replacing a partner who’s been with me for almost 20 years is not going to be easy. I’m not in such a hurry, knowing that Joel is going to stay.”

The designer said he’s also made some changes in his advertising strategy. Maintaining his relationship with Deutsch Inc., Hilfiger has also hired Doug Lloyd of Lloyd & Co., the New York ad agency, for the women’s and men’s Collection ads, and A/R Media, a New York-based ad agency, for Tommy Jeans. Deutsch continues to do all production and trafficking worldwide. “We want to move onto a new level and feeding in some fashion creativity doesn’t hurt,” he said.
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