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NEW YORK — G-III Apparel Group Ltd., which has successfully transformed into a broad-based apparel company, looks to continue its growth and diversification strategy over the next several years.
This story first appeared in the June 5, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Speaking at the company’s annual meeting Tuesday, Morris Goldfarb, chairman and chief executive officer, said the company is interested in practically any fashion category.
“As we go forward, our capabilities have advanced to the point where our opportunity set is not limited by category, gender, tier of distribution, price point or geography. I believe that, as an organization, we have come to a point where we believe we can do just about anything we set our minds to in this industry,” said Goldfarb.
He noted that the company is in a good position to evaluate strategic acquisitions, given that its balance sheet remains healthy with little long-term debt.
On Monday, G-III surprised analysts with a first-quarter profit and lifted guidance for the year. G-III’s shares surged 21.2 percent to close at $51.81 on Tuesday, reaching a 52-week high in intraday trading.
Having diversified beyond outerwear, the company seeks to build in a number of important categories. Goldfarb spoke about the success the company has had since launching dresses five years ago. In fiscal 2008, G-III shipped about $30 million in dresses. By fiscal 2013, it shipped more than $300 million in dresses. Today, G-III’s dresses can be found in more than 1,200 department store doors in the U.S. “These efforts have quickly made us one of the largest dress companies in the industry,” he said. The ceo believes the company’s sportswear, suit, performance and handbag businesses are poised for similar success.
Goldfarb cited the company’s key partnership with the Calvin Klein organization and its parent, PVH Corp. In fact, Goldfarb introduced Allen Sirkin, who retired as president and chief operating officer of PVH last June, and was elected to G-III’s board on Tuesday.
Goldfarb noted that brand value is critical, especially when they contemplate entering new categories. That was one of the things that attracted G-III to its latest acquisition, Vilebrequin. Goldfarb said the brand has given the company “instant legitimacy” in the swim category.
Goldfarb is also enthusiastic about the Ivanka Trump brand for dresses, sportswear and swimwear. He noted that the NFL business performed better than in any recent year. He also cited the progress that Wilsons has made. When the firm acquired Wilsons in 2008, it was losing money and generating sales of $250 a square foot. The chain is now “significantly profitable,” and sales are at $350 a square foot and growing, said Goldfarb, adding the plan is to open more stores. At its peak as an independent company, Wilsons supported more than 700 locations. Today, it operates 150 stores. “There is clearly a considerable opportunity to grow this business again,” said Goldfarb.
For the quarter ended April 30, G-III registered net income of $1 million. This came against a loss of $847,000 in the year-ago period. This was the first time that G-III has had a profitable first quarter, which Goldfarb attributed to strong outerwear sales because of the cool weather during the quarter and gross margin improvement in “our nonouterwear wholesale business and our retail operations.” Aided by the addition of Vilebrequin in August and strong performance from its extensive portfolio of Calvin Klein licenses, sales rose 18.8 percent to $272.6 million from $229.4 million in the year-ago quarter.
The strong showing prompted G-III to raise guidance for the year. It now expects earnings per share of between $3.20 and $3.30, versus its earlier expectation of between $3.10 and $3.20, and sales of about $1.57 billion, up from previous guidance of $1.55 billion.