By  on January 10, 2005

NEW YORK — Komar Co. has acquired a majority share of Chelsea Design Group LLC from Gelmart Industries Inc., said David Komar, executive vice president of the 97-year-old innerwear firm.

Chelsea Design was created in June 2003 in a partnership with Gelmart Industries, and three longtime innerwear executives — Stuart Greenberg, president and chief executive officer of Chelsea Design; Tobie Garfinkle, senior vice president of merchandising, and Linda Perrone-Fernandez, senior vice president of design — to produce bras, panties and shapewear bearing the Liz Claiborne label.

A purchase price was not disclosed. But in 2003, Greenberg said wholesale volume of the licensed Liz Claiborne foundations was expected to “exceed $50 million.”

Greenberg, Garfinkle and Perrone-Fernandez, who will collectively own a 40 percent stake in Chelsea, will continue in their present roles. The company will still operate independently, said Greenberg and Komar.

“Based on their long history in the industry, Komar is regarded as a premier, first-class company,” said Greenberg. “They have a very special relationship with retailers and their employee base. The short- and long-term opportunities and synergies for both groups are tremendous. It’s Komar’s entry into the bra business, and the plans over the next five years are huge.”

Komar, a third-generation, family owned maker of sleepwear, robes and at-homewear, manufactures the Liz Claiborne sleepwear collection.

Charles Komar, president and ceo of the Komar firm, said in a statement: “Our long-term goal has always been to become a full-line intimates company. Chelsea’s highly talented team will bring our objective to fruition. It’s a great fit.”

Barbara Friedman, president of licensing at the Claiborne firm, could not be reached for comment. However, she said in a statement the alliance “will strengthen the brand’s presence on the intimate apparel floor.”

Regarding the progress of Liz Claiborne intimate apparel, Greenberg said, “We’ll be shipping new product for spring in two weeks. Distribution is now national. Retailers continue to focus on the name. Our group continues to focus on creating product related to the Liz Claiborne customer that’s unique and special and of the highest quality.”

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