By  on November 19, 2007

Hampshire Group Ltd. has sold its Marisa Christina and David Brooks trademarks and inventory to B2X Corp., a Jersey City-based technology company that bought Susan Bristol this year.Since entering the apparel industry, B2X is creating a niche in better-priced novelty brands targeting specialty stores. B2X sees its strength in its lower-cost, higher-speed sourcing in China."The continuing thread is the novelty in these lines and their appeal to specialty stores," said Lili Arbogast, senior vice president of national brands for B2X. "Specialty stores are still very consumer-driven rather than price-driven."Hampshire, a $350 million New York-based knit firm, bought David Brooks in October 2005 from Kellwood Co. for an undisclosed sum and then Marisa Christina in May 2006 for $4.8 million, as part of the predominately moderate firm's initiative to build its better arsenal. Hampshire said it is still dedicated to growing its better business, but is exiting the specialty store business."Hampshire is very focused on growing our better business, through vehicles such as our proprietary Spring + Mercer line and our new license for Joseph Abboud for women's," said Hampshire president and chief executive officer Michael Culang. "We also are always seeking opportunities to build or acquire additional strong brands that address the better market." David Brooks, a better-priced sportswear line that wholesales on average in the $40s, was once carried in some 1,000 department store doors, but Hampshire refocused the collection to target specialty stores after acquiring it from Kellwood. B2X plans to continue with the positioning and design of the approximately $20 million brand. Founded in 1971 and known for its knitwear, Marisa Christina at its peak did $18 million in volume and was sold in more than 700 specialty stores and upscale department stores, but Hampshire had ceased all domestic operations of the brand and continued only its international licensing efforts. Hampshire sold the Marisa Christina trademarks in all countries other than Japan, where Hampshire has an active license through November 2009. B2X plans to relaunch the brand at a bridge price point."The David Brooks and Marisa Christina assets will be a valuable addition to B2X's national brands division, offering more choices to our customers," Joseph A. Sorisi, B2X ceo, said in a statement. "Strategically these purchases are intended to enhance and accelerate B2X apparel distribution by applying the new B2X technology trading platform." B2X aims to simplify international business by offering an online import and export trading platform that includes an all-inclusive price covering all goods and fees such as custom duties, import-export tariffs, insurance, shipping and handling and warehousing costs.

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