By  on April 23, 2007

When designer Flora Nikrooz sold her sleepwear company to The Age Group in 2003, the new owners had a three-year plan for annual volume of $15 million to $20 million and quintupling the number of doors in which the brand was sold.

"Since the acquisition, Flora's business has practically quadrupled," said Richard Adjmi, president and co-owner of The Age Group, which generates wholesale revenue in excess of $100 million. "In 2007, our projected sales volume at retail will be $25 million, including private label. Flora has added a breath of fresh air and adds value to every division in the business. We have exceeded plan with Flora."

Nikrooz and her husband managed the independent company since 1982, enjoying the freedom of designing upscale designer sleepwear that had a strong following but limited distribution. Nikrooz started out with a line of fancy-looking teddies, followed by sleepwear, and later became known for her signature lace and chiffon sleep gowns and robes, primarily bridal fare.

But the reality of continuing consolidation at retail, especially among major stores, took its toll on the specialty firm that generated wholesale sales of close to $5 million, and the husband-and-wife team decided to sell their company to The Age Group to gain capital and further penetration into stores.

The move has paid off, said Nikrooz, who has expanded distribution halfway to the company's goal of more than 750 department and specialty stores and boutiques with three brands: Flora Nikrooz Collection, a premium label produced in New York; Flora Nikrooz Gold, a better-to-designer brand manufactured in China, and 2 Life, an eco-friendly line of soy-based sleepwear made in China that was launched this year at Federated Department Stores and will remain an exclusive until May 25. Nikrooz also does private label sleepwear that's distributed to various channels of distribution.

A collection of bras and coordinating panties, as well as daywear, will be designed in-house, manufactured in China and introduced in August. The name of the new brand has not been set.

Regarding Nikrooz's transition into a midsized company, the designer said: "It was a total change, but I discovered a change in a very positive way. It allowed me to experience personal growth and to become diversified. I love being able to design many different lines. Before, it was very limited because we didn't have the financing, the sourcing ability and the right team. I needed the diversity to keep up with the times and evolve the key elements of my collections, including two-piece pajamas, chemises, camis, teddies, slips and long and short sleep gowns.

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