By  on July 10, 2008

Maidenform Brands Inc. has appointed president Maurice S. Reznik chief executive officer of the 85-year-old bra company.

Addressing his vision for Maidenform, Reznik said, “We have a strategy that is multifold. International growth is a key component of our strategy….We feel we own a lot of business there and we have a mulitchannel strategy. Our focus is to grow our brands. We’ll be officially taking over the [licensed] Donna Karan and DKNY [intimates] brands on Jan. 1 and this will give us an opportunity with retailers we currently don’t do business with.”

Maidenform signed a licensing deal with Donna Karan International in May to design, source and market full collections of intimates bearing the DKNY and Donna Karan names. In addition to Maidenform, the company’s portfolio of brands includes Lilyette, Sweet Nothings, Rendezvous, Flexees, Subtract, Bodymates, Self Expressions and Luleh, an exclusive brand for Macy’s.

Reznik, president of Maidenform since April 1998, will succeed Thomas J. Ward on July 28. Ward, who was also vice chairman, will become the chairman. Ward, 61, has been ceo since July 2001 and was chairman from May 2004 to April 2005. The current chairman, David B. Kaplan, senior partner at Ares Management, will continue as a board member. Reznik, 54, has also been named to the board.

Reznik said the economic climate “is challenging, not only for us, but for everybody. From a macroeconomic condition, there are some things we can’t control. However, we have the business and brands to fly under these conditions.”

Reznik said the long-term growth plan during Ward’s tenure as ceo contributed year-end 2001 to 2007 compounded net sales growth of 10.3 percent, consolidated gross margin of expansion of 1,190 basis points “as we move to 100 percent sourcing and deleveraging our balance sheet to a debt-to-EBITA ratio of 1.3 to 1.”

In 2007, Maidenform reported net sales of $422.2 million, with the wholesale branded business increasing 8.7 percent over 2006. Total international sales increased 34.7 percent to $38.4 million in 2007, while operating income rose 11 percent to $61.6 million.

Ward said since the company went public in July 2005, debt has been reduced to $88 million from $160 million. He said key factors that have bolstered growth and established strong brand equity include repositioning its role in 2002 as a marketer rather than a manufacturer that included closing manufacturing facilities in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jacksonville, Fla., and opening an office in Hong Kong.

Among the top-performing products in the first quarter was a new shapewear brand called Control It and the full-figure bra business by Lilyette. A new full-figure sports bra called Lilyette in Motion bows in stores this month.

Regarding a successor as president, Reznik said, “The company is evaluating what’s appropriate. There is a strategy and we do have a search [for someone] to take over some of my functions. We’ll be actively recruiting a head of sales and marketing.”

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