By  on February 7, 2008

As better knit company Joseph A. was in talks to be acquired by the Tharanco Group, Joseph A. president Carole Alexander left to take over as Nubby knitwear director of sales for competitor HMS Productions Inc. In the new post, Alexander hopes to grow the door count and volume for Nubby, which launched last fall as a higher-priced line for HMS. The company also owns better knitwear label Cable & Gauge and Spense separates and dresses. "I've been in knitwear for 15 years, seven as president of Joseph A. and, in that time, I saw a lot of change in the area where our product was being presented," Alexander said. "I chose to move because this is the future. The better zone has become mature. Department stores are looking to get higher retail [prices] out the door and dress their customer cooler and more modern. Nubby offers many of the elements that will take it a step above where the better knitwear department sits now."Wholesaling for $29 to $69, Nubby is carried in 70 doors, including Macy's and Dillard's, and is projected to generate as much as $10 million in its first year. For fall 2008, Alexander wants to grow the door count to 250 department stores and another 500 specialty stores. "Cable & Gauge and Joseph A. are synonymous in what they do," said Lou Breuning, president of the $100 million HMS. "There are some price restrictions in the better zone, where the key price point in the better zone is $39. In the next level, where Nubby sits, that price is moved up to $78 or $88, and we are able to use more expensive yarns and treatments."Alexander started her new job six weeks ago, while Joseph A. was in a three-month negotiation with the Tharanco Group. When the deal closed last week, Joseph A. chief executive officer, Elan Eliau said all staff would be staying on post-acquisition, and the company would continue to be run as a stand-alone firm. Joseph A. knits wholesale for $14 to $50 and does about $150 million in wholesale volume.

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