GarfieldMarks LLC is being acquired by LF 1937 Ltd., a division of Li & Fung, and Rousso Apparel Group.

LF and Victor Rousso, president of his family’s $200 million apparel business, will fund the buyout of six former Harvé Benard executives. Rousso Apparel Group will manage the bridge-priced business as an operating partner, Rousso said.

This story first appeared in the December 26, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Terms of the deal, which was first disclosed by WWD, were not available.

Founded in 1993, GarfieldMarks hit its peak in the Nineties with more than $60 million in sales. In the last few years business has been hurt by shipping problems and other difficulties, and sales are estimated at less than half the peak figure. The firm could not meet payroll on Dec. 8, telling workers that lenders had frozen company accounts until it reached a purchase agreement, the company said. As a condition to Friday’s deal, all of the approximately 35 employees have been paid all back wages, Rousso said.

All GarfieldMarks employees, with the exception of co-managing partner Harvey Schutzbank, will be kept on under the new ownership. Co-managing partner Howard Sheer will become president.

GarfieldMarks jackets wholesale from $165 to $190 and pants sell for $80 to $95. The more casual Womyn line wholesales at $64 to $85 for pants and $85 to $115 for jackets.

“We will continue to build the brands in the channel of distribution they’re in,” Sheer said, adding the brand will move to a new showroom. “Nothing is really changing except the back office. All we have to do is deliver the product that we have sold, and everything else will take care of itself. We’ve had issues with the previous partnership with Harvé Benard being sold that affected deliveries.”

The agreement follows the sale of Harvé Benard, which shared back-office facilities with GarfieldMarks. Wellington Capital Group, a New York-based equity firm, bought Harvé Benard in September for $12 million, but said it passed on GarfieldMarks, first at the time of that acquisition and then more recently. Talks with Rousso and LF have been going on for about 90 days, Rousso said.

Brand co-founders Alex Gar­field and Bernie Marks sold the company to Pegasus Capital Ad­visors in 2000, and shortly thereafter both left the firm, maintaining a 50 percent stake. Garfield returned to the firm in August 2004 when Jones Texas Inc. bought it. When Jones’ chairman and chief executive officer Edward M. Jones 3rd departed in September, Garfield and Marks sold to the executives from Harvé Benard Ltd. Garfield left shortly thereafter.

Last summer, the new owners hired a design team and management, including Marks in an advisory role, for the GarfieldMarks and Womyn lines. They predicted 2007 sales would be $40 million.

Rousso Apparel Group is a predominately moderate apparel firm. Better lines, like the new niche label Naturally Organic World, make up 22 percent of its sales, according to company president Amy Taub Kahn, who said last month that the firm was trying to grow this higher-margin side of the business.

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