WWD.com/business-news/financial/fireman-webster-capital-invest-in-hudson-jeans-2077306/
government-trade
government-trade

Fireman, Webster Capital Invest in Hudson Jeans

Hudson Jeans agreed to receive an investment from former Reebok ceo Paul Fireman, Fireman Capital Partners and Webster Capital.

LOS ANGELES — Hudson Jeans, the premium denim brand recognized for its Union Jack logo, agreed to receive an investment from former Reebok chief executive officer Paul Fireman, Fireman Capital Partners and Webster Capital.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but a report last week in The Wall Street Journal said Fireman was investing about $30 million in the denim firm. As a result of the investment, a new board for City of Commerce, Calif.-based Hudson will likely be formed to include representatives from Fireman Capital and Webster.

The deal represents a rare bright spot in the current recession, when lenders, investors and consumers have all pulled back sharply on spending. This also marks the first investment by Fireman Capital, a private equity firm founded last year by Fireman. Webster, based in Waltham, Mass., is an investment firm that targets profitable companies generating between $20 million and $100 million in revenue. Following previous links with retailer Barneys New York, Webster’s current portfolio of investments includes apparel and lifestyle companies such as Sundance Catalog Co. and Norm Thompson Outfitters.

Founded seven years ago, privately held Hudson expects sales of more than $60 million this year, up 20 percent from about $50 million last year. In a March 12 interview, Peter Kim, Hudson’s chief executive officer and president, said he expects revenues to increase by between 15 percent and 20 percent in 2010. Within two to three years, as the economy recovers from the recession, he anticipates higher growth.

“We’re projecting to grow over the next five to six years,” he said.

With about 80 employees, Hudson remains one of the few denim brands that doesn’t operate a freestanding shop. “That’s a long, long time away,” Kim said. “Honestly, we’re not a brand yet.”

Even with the cash infusion from the new investors, Hudson will likely stick to a wholesale business model. In the U.S., it currently sells to more than 1,000 doors, ranging from specialty retailers such as Planet Funk and Atrium to department stores including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. Its retail network extends to 24 other countries.