NEW YORK--Five months after taking the helm at London Fog Corp., Robert E. Gregory Jr. has been making strategic moves aimed at putting the troubled rainwear and outerwear maker back on a steady course. The latest maneuvers came last week with the appointment of a president of its Pacific Trail division and the announcement of a new licensing deal for children's outerwear. The company is also exploring other new products and strengthening its presence in the mass market. When Gregory took over as chairman and chief executive officer in January, London Fog was mired in debt and had alienated its retail accounts with a failed attempt at demanding that stores not promote the firm's signature coat brands until well into the season. In addition, much production was shifted overseas from Maryland, resulting in quality and delivery problems. Most of these problems came during the year-long regime of Arnold Cohen, who resigned under pressure as chairman and ceo last August. Gregory was not available for comment on the latest developments, but Douglass Hillman, president of London Fog's wholesale division, said: "Now we're back on a successful course after losing our direction." As the first step in what Hillman called an "intensive licensing effort to leverage...brand equity," London Fog has entered a licensing deal with Amerex USA to produce children's outerwear, rainwear and windsuits under the London Fog label. London Fog, based in Eldersburg, Md., had been making children's outerwear and rainwear in-house for the past two years, after a 15-year licensing deal with Fashion Rite Corp. was not renewed. It will not ship a fall 1995 children's line. The line made by Amerex is slated to hit stores for fall 1996. The deal also calls for Amerex to handle the mass-market labels Clipper Mist, Outdoors Unlimited, Darby Green, Severn and Royal Castle. These children's wear brands had been part of London Fog's value-priced division. Amerex will establish a new division for the London Fog venture. Hillman said the company is pursuing additional licensing opportunities in women's and men's sportswear, leather outerwear, accessories and casual footwear. "We're also looking for additional strategic alliances to develop more mass-market brands," Hillman said. London Fog has licenses with D. Klein for luggage and umbrellas and with Aquarius for children's hats and gloves. Amerex, based here, holds the license for Misty Harbor and Jones New York rainwear. William Dragon Jr. was named president at Pacific Trail, the Seattle-based active outerwear division. It has been without a president since it was acquired by London Fog in April 1994. Dragon had been executive vice president of Deja Inc., a environmental footwear company. Prior to that he served as president of Avia Group International. In April, London Fog arranged a restructuring that stretched out payments and turned over 80 percent of the company to its lenders. A bank group led by Chemical Bank committed to provide the firm with a $120 million working capital facility over the next two years. "We're back doing what made us successful over the years, which is focusing on and developing our brand," Hillman said.
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