By  on January 7, 2008

NEW YORK — Michael Parker has been named group president of HMX Tailored, a venerable but challenged division of Hartmarx Corp. that includes the Palm Beach, Austin Reed and Sansabelt brands, as well as licenses for Tommy Hilfiger and Claiborne tailored clothing.

An 18-year veteran of the tailored clothing and sportswear markets, Parker was most recently vice-president of national accounts at Peerless Clothing International, a behemoth in the mid-tier that seems untouched by the problems plaguing similarly positioned vendors, Hartmarx included. Prior to that, Parker was president of PBM’s Bremen trouser division, and vice-president of Lanier Clothes. He began his career as an account executive for Tommy Hilfiger sportswear.

Parker, 43, replaces Rich Biegel, who left the company last July and recently was tapped to head the tailored clothing division of Peter Millar, a better sportswear line.

In the last few years, HMX Tailored has been buffeted by soft sales and retail consolidation in the department store channel, and company CEO Homi Patel has cut losses in the last year, dismantling both the Jhane Barnes and Kenneth Cole licenses. But Patel said Parker is inheriting a division that is stabilizing. “We’re going to keep the structure in place,” he told DNR last week. “He’ll be working on just our profitable businesses.”

Among Parker’s tasks will be improving Hartmarx’s flagging department store business. “[He] understands how to make that a profitable distribution channel for our company,” Patel added.

Despite the recent downsizing, HMX Tailored is among the largest divisions of the company. It grosses north of $200 million, according to market sources. Hartmarx has annual sales of around $577 million.

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