By  on November 17, 2004

LOS ANGELES — Apparel Ventures Inc., one of the largest independent swimwear companies, has acquired Waterfront Design Group LLC, a young contemporary-junior swimwear firm that has the license for junior brand Rampage swimwear.

AVI, which makes swimwear under license for Ralph Lauren, Anne Klein and Tommy Bahama, has created the subsidiary Blue Water Design Group Co. Inc. to take over Waterfront’s assets. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the merger between the two Los Angeles-based companies consolidates some of the industry’s leading brands in the designer, junior, young contemporary and misses’ categories under one shingle. An announcement of the acquisition is expected today.

AVI founder and chairman Marvin Goodman said he plans to manage the two divisions separately, maintaining the brand personality and market presence of each. Blue Water Design Co. will continue to operate in the same Los Angeles facilities and showrooms as Waterfront Design Group.

“We’ve been working on the deal for the past couple of weeks,” Goodman said. “We don’t have a major junior or young contemporary presence, and Waterfront was looking to expand its horizons, so the fit made a lot of sense.”

Waterfront Design Group, formed in 2001 by swimwear veteran Howard Greller, manufactures swimwear under the label Rampage and its company-owned labels W Swim, By the Beach, Water Front Surf and Ocean View. The company’s volume is reported to be more than $20 million. Greller has been named president of the new division and will report to Goodman.

“In our world you get to a certain size and you almost outgrow yourself in your economic ability to get to the next level,” said Greller, who headed Beach Patrol and La Blanca in the Eighties. “This gives us access to greater capital, sourcing and distribution, and I’m sure our competitors are not happy.”

Lynne Koplin, president of Apparel Ventures Inc. since 1999, will continue to head up the designer and contemporary swimwear business, which has projected volume of $90 million in 2005, a little less than 10 percent more than this year. “We’re being conservative for now, just concentrating on exploiting the brands we have in the family tent and maintaining our relationships in the market,” said Goodman, who added that last summer’s speculation about AVI’s acquisition by Warnaco is no longer an issue.AVI, founded in 1976, employs 850 people and designs and manufactures collections under the labels La Blanca by Rod Beattie, Playa by La Blanca and Sessa, as well as private label merchandise. In addition, Apparel Ventures Europa Textila, LDA, located in Lisbon, manufactures private label swimwear for the European market, with annual volume of about $12 million.

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