By  on July 21, 2011

Joseph Abboud just might get his namesake brand back after all, even without a sale of JA Apparel Corp.

JA Apparel’s parent, private equity firm J.W. Childs, has decided not to sell the company and instead will pursue a licensing business model, sources said. A spokeswoman for the private equity firm declined comment.

WWD reported in June that HMX Group was interested in becoming the tailored clothing licensee for JA’s Joseph Abboud brand, and sources say that hasn’t changed.

Should a licensing deal be struck, it would reunite Abboud the designer with the Abboud brand that he founded and later sold. Abboud is now president and chief creative director at HMX, which is owned by SKNL International.

In June, sale discussions were centered on brand management firm Iconix Brand Group Inc., with HMX as a possible licensee. A key stumbling block was the Boston factory owned by JA, for which interest has been weak.

HMX has shown interest in JA before. Back in January, HMX was taking a look at JA’s operations, eyeing the license as Li & Fung became more focused on buying ownership of the Abboud brand.

The private equity firm has flirted with selling the company on and off since 2006, with the key stumbling block every time being what to do about the Boston factory. What has changed over the course of five years is the asking price, which had dropped to $85 million from $100 million-plus in 2006.

And while rumblings in the marketplace had HMX making a bid for JA, sources familiar with the discussions said those reports weren’t true and that HMX never made a bid for JA. In the meantime, J.W. Childs had hoped to sell the company and use the proceeds to create momentum as it raises money for its next fund. Now the private equity firm might have to rethink its fund-raising strategy.

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