After nearly 60 years, Gelmart Industries Inc. is getting a face-lift.
For starters, the family-owned company headed by Yossi Nasser, a second-generation owner who serves as president of the $50 million firm, has been renamed Gelmart International.
Nasser, a former analyst and portfolio manager of consumer goods companies at London-based hedge fund firm Marble Bar Assets, is no stranger to his family’s private label foundations business. From age eight, he spent his summers working in the warehouse, packing, shipping and sweeping floors, later interacting with merchandisers and sales associates and preparing export documents. He rejoined the family business in mid-2009 with the intention of transforming what he described as a “traditional, family-run company” into a global enterprise.
The initial transition phase began earlier this year by realigning departments to offset duplication and eliminating several sales and design positions, as well as relocating the company’s sourcing and sample operation from New York to Shantou, China. Nasser has also made a $1.5 million investment in upgrading computer technology to enhance vendor-retailer partnerships with Wal-Mart, Kmart, Sears and Avenue stores, and the number of factories in China was cut from eight to four to leverage Gelmart’s position as a big-volume resource. Now, following the company’s year-over-year sales gains in the mid-teens, the 31-year-old financial analyst-turned innerwear entrepreneur says he’s poised to expand proprietary brands, as well as delve into licensing pacts. He projects doubling annual wholesale revenues to $100 million by the end of 2013.
Here, a conversation with Nasser about his plans to grow the family business.
WWD: What is your strategy to grow Gelmart’s business? Yossi Nasser: Gelmart is no longer just a manufacturer. Today we are a full-service vendor partner with the ability to design and develop, source and manufacture, merchandise and market the right product at the right time at the right price. We service each customer to the best of our ability. We don’t just sell to our customers. There is a big difference. I believe this is why Gelmart was honored with the Wal-Mart Supplier of the Year Award [for undergarments] for 2010.…Priority is being placed on product innovation and merchandising. Our designers are challenged to ask themselves, “How or why is this product relevant?” And “Does this product provide a solution, meet a need, or fill a niche or void?”
Our short-term strategy is to focus on the expansion of our core business. Leveraging our strengths in supply chain management, product design, development and merchandising, we are driving volume and sales within our established retail channels. At the same time, we are rapidly increasing our retail distribution channels by diversifying product categories and merchandising methods. The next phase of our company’s growth includes the development of in-house brands and the licensing of established, nationally recognized brands. We will design, manufacture and market a comprehensive portfolio of brands in the intimate apparel, shapewear and sleepwear categories.
WWD: Please give examples of how Gelmart is operating more efficiently? Y.N.: Since coming into this business, I have treated it as a startup.…I am involved in the front end of the business, communicating directly with our retail clients on a daily basis. Two integral members of my senior management team include Ken Parag, chief financial officer and executive vice president of the supply chain, and Eve Bastug, senior vice president of merchandising and design. With their help, we recently established a satellite office in Mainland China, adjacent to our factories, which serves as a product development and sourcing hub.…We have saved $500,000 with the move.
To achieve our goals, first, I had to lay a firm foundation upon which we could grow. This began with the infrastructure. Internally, departments and their personnel were realigned and I took a lot of time to put together the new senior management team. I implemented new systems, including a high-tech computer system. The move of our sample room from New York to China is not only cost effective, but it also provides us with a competitive edge. We consolidated our production facilities so that our suppliers are our key partners. We now operate domestic distribution centers in both New Jersey and in Los Angeles. The West Coast distribution center [opened last week] will significantly cut our shipping lead times and save air shipment costs. Additionally, I have implemented lead-time monitoring systems to ensure our product cycle is as tight as possible.
WWD: Where do you see the company five years from now? Y.N.: I envision a one-stop shop for our valued customers to get product innovation and differentiation at a price that cannot be beat. In terms of brands, [we are developing Body Naturals], and I expect to own a very successful in-house brand, a brand that we can license into other categories. I also see exclusive partnerships and licensing several recognizable brands, which we plan to market domestically and internationally.
WWD: How are you dealing with rising costs for raw materials and labor? Y.N.: Gelmart, to the best of its ability, has been willing to absorb most of the cost increases from our suppliers.…We nominate a number of suppliers, so we can have much more scale, volume and balance that works with our manufacturing flexibility.…Our company works closely with our factory partners and raw materials suppliers to cost each and every style as carefully as possible, and we continually work to trim the fat. One key component is maintaining the flexibility to quickly adapt to changes in the market here and abroad.
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews