Henry Jacobson Sportswear Exiting Department Stores

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NEW YORK – Henry Jacobson’s sportswear collection will be pulled out of department stores next spring.

In confirming plans to focus the collection on specialty stores, Alan Burks, recently named president of Henry Jacobson and its affiliate, Mulberry Neckwear, said, “The problem has been that our product is not designed for the moderate customer; it’s designed for specialty store shoppers and was positioned incorrectly.”

Currently, Henry Jacobson, based in Richmond, Calif., does about 20% of its business with specialty store accounts, which number “about 200, and growing,” Burks told MRketplace.com.

Alan Burks at the Collective this week

Even though the sacrifice of 80% of the collection’s volume will dramatically cut into Henry Jacobson’s top line, “from a bottom-line perspective, we’ll do better,” the executive added. “We certainly don’t have anything against department store business, but it was the wrong product for those stores, which have their own margin requirements and markdown schedules. The positioning wasn’t really working for either us or the department stores.

“This is a question of survival, of being in the right place.”

The change in distribution initially won’t affect Henry Jacobson’s licensees – Peerless International for clothing, Kellwood Co. for dress shirts (a deal signed two months ago), and Mulberry for ties. “Licensees will go forward in the department stores for now,” Burks said, “but at some point in time, they’ll match up with us strategically.”

Mulberry remains essentially a department store resource, with 85% of its volume sold through that channel, according to Burks. “The margins for neckwear in the department stores are healthy,” he noted.

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