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SAKS INC. IN RUFF HEWN DEAL

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- In its second major licensing deal of a well-known brand name, Saks Inc. has purchased the exclusive right to sell Ruff Hewn, a label known for classic, relaxed styling, through an agreement announced Tuesday with Kikomo Ltd., a...

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In its second major licensing deal of a well-known brand name, Saks Inc. has purchased the exclusive right to sell Ruff Hewn, a label known for classic, relaxed styling, through an agreement announced Tuesday with Kikomo Ltd., a holding company for Ruff Hewn and other brands.

Last year, Saks attained the license to manufacture and sell Laura Ashley women’s apparel and accessories.

Both brands are being managed by the Saks Department Store Group private brand organization based here. Under the Ruff Hewn agreement, Saks has the exclusive U.S. rights to design, produce, distribute and sell Ruff Hewn men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, shoes, accessories and home products. The merchandise will be introduced to Saks department stores in fall 2003.

Kikomo Ltd., a sportswear importer based in Secaucus, N.J., bought Ruff Hewn in 1998 after the brand went bankrupt and liquidated and has since been trying to revive the midsized label, which historically was sold to specialty and department stores.

Saks Inc. operates 243 department stores under the names Parisian, Proffitt’s, McRae’s, Younkers, Herberger’s, Carson Pirie Scott, Bergner’s and Boston Store. The company also operates Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises, which consists of 61 Saks Fifth Avenue stores and 52 Off-Fifth outlets.

Saks plans to sell Laura Ashley misses’, petite and plus-size sportswear, dresses, swimwear and outerwear, as well as leather handbags, small leather goods and jewelry. The Laura Ashley apparel will be sold in about 125 stores this fall, with accessories launched into 125 stores by fall 2003. Apparel should roll out to all Saks department stores by fall 2003, and accessories will be in all stores by fall 2004. Also planned are in-store Laura Ashley shops within various category areas.

Product will vary somewhat from the London-based Laura Ashley line, but the U.K. designers will provide input. Signature Laura Ashley looks are based on English country lifestyle, with classic styling.