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Brands Court Potential Investors and Buyers

Most companies would make a deal for the right price, especially amid the current troubled economy, and some firms are actively weighing their options.

Most companies would make a deal for the right price, especially amid the current troubled economy, and some firms are actively weighing their options.

This story first appeared in the July 8, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Last month, cash-strapped NexCen Brands Inc. said it received “numerous expressions of interest” in its Bill Blass and Waverly brands. The firm has inked an agreement with its lender that will provide a bit of additional financial breathing room, at least until the middle of this month. In addition, NexCen has sliced its workforce by 10 percent, a move expected to cut cash outlays by about $3.5 million.

It’s uncertain how this will all shake out. Designer Licensing Holdings Co. LLC, the jeanswear licensee for Bill Blass and owner of 10 percent of the Bill Blass trademark, has acknowledged interest in acquiring the mark. Others reported to have expressed interest include Tharanco Group, Iconix Brand Group Inc. and Windsong Brands LLC.

Lutz & Patmos, a designer knitwear label known for its collaboration with high-profile types like Carine Roitfeld and Julianne Moore, is also said to be seeking an investor or a potential buyer.

In addition, Brooklyn Industries, a nine-unit retail operation that has built a loyal following in its 10-year history is prime for the taking. Co-founder Lexy Funk has heard from potential buyers but said nothing is “imminent.” She might seek a partnership down the road to raise capital, provided the brand maintains its indie spirit and creative design and marketing, she said.

“The next step for us is to build the company into a national brand within the next five years,” Funk said.

To that end, the company has just opened its first non-New York store in Chicago’s Buckhead neighborhood, which is where Funk lived when she attended the Art Institute of Chicago. Brooklyn Industries’ e-commerce site has allowed the brand to reach shoppers in the U.K., Scandinavia and other places abroad.