By and  on October 31, 2007

Wesley R. Card is hanging tough at Jones Apparel Group Inc. — and it's not for sale.

Card, a 17-year Jones veteran who took over as chief executive officer in July after the departure of Peter Boneparth, has a three-pronged business focus: people, product and execution — in that order. Every employee now has the slogan on repeat as his or her computer screensaver, the ceo said Tuesday, nodding to the terminal in his Manhattan office. He believes in the company's core brands and the wholesale model even as department stores and wholesale competitors cope with a challenging economic climate.

"I'm not a designer and not, technically, a merchant," said Card, Jones' former chief financial officer. "But I can see the difference between a good product and a bad product....Our goal is just to be the best supplier to retailers."

Third-quarter earnings for the $4.74 billion company, which are being released today, show that, for the three months ended Oct. 6, profits increased to $400 million, or $3.97 a diluted share, from $63 million, or 56 cents, in the same period last year. Most of the gain is attributable to the sale of Barneys New York.

Excluding the effects of the sale of Barneys' retail operations and its related results, the impact of severance and other expenses related to restructuring activities and certain other charges, adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations for the third quarter of 2007 were $0.51 compared with $0.59 for the same period last year.

Total revenues slid to $1.03 billion from $1.08 billion, including wholesale sales of $1.01 billion from $1.06 billion a year ago, with the balance from licensing income.

For the quarter, wholesale better apparel revenues rose 1 percent to $367 million, while wholesale moderate apparel fell by 7.6 percent to $266 million. Wholesale footwear and accessories saw a gain of 6.2 percent to $293 million, but retail sales dropped 8.8 percent to $177 million.

The company sold the Barneys luxury chain, purchased for $397.5 million in 2004, to Dubai-based investment firm Istithmar for $942.3 million. It is also liquidating businesses after being unable to find buyers for the 9 & Co., Norton McNaughton, Rena Rowan, Duckhead and Pappagallo brands.

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