By  on October 15, 2007

St. Eve International Inc. has merged into Russell-Newman Inc., bringing together two of the industry's longtime specialists.

David Martino, president and chief executive officer of Denton, Tex.-based Russell-Newman, said St. Eve will operate "under the umbrella of the Russell-Newman company."

Todd Demakos will continue as ceo of the St. Eve operation as part of a three-year contract and "no layoffs are planned," Martino said.

"St. Eve is a really strong company," Martino said. "Their clientele is mostly made up of different distribution patterns than we have because they specialize in daywear and underwear, which we don't do. St. Eve will continue in a very big way. We will build the brand's prominence."

Demakos said, "It's a great partnership for St. Eve. I plan to continue working with Russell-Newman for many years to come."

St. Eve was founded in 1976 as an importer and distributor of women's undergarments. It sells products under the St. Eve name, as well as private label. Russell-Newman was established in 1939 as a manufacturer of women's innerwear and now focuses on branded sleepwear and robes, including the Cypress label and licensed Tommy Hilfiger and Laura Ashley names, men's sleepwear by Jockey and private label.

In August, Industrial Renaissance Inc., a Fairfield, Conn.-based private equity firm, recapitalized Russell-Newman. Terms of the Russell-Newman recapitalization and the merger were not disclosed. The equity firm's objective is buying and building businesses, and it has acquired mature businesses with revenues from $50 million to more than $1 billion.

In 2006, IR acquired the $200 million Biflex Intimates Group from Kellwood Co. Biflex is a specialist in sourcing and designing private label and branded bras such as the licensed Izod intimates brand aimed at department stores, national chains and mass merchants.

Eric Hamburg, president of IR, said the firm has invested a "significant" sum to grow the combined Russell-Newman-St. Eve businesses into an innerwear powerhouse.

"They are such complementary companies," Hamburg said. "St. Eve and Russell-Newman fit in like a glove."

Regarding future deals in the intimates arena, Hamburg said, "Absolutely, we would be looking for complementary acquisitions of companies with complementary product lines and brands, and licensing opportunities, as well."

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