By  on April 16, 2007

NEW YORK — Hart Schaffner Marx men's suits will make their debut in the Chinese market this fall.

In January, Hartmarx Corp., HSM's parent, signed a 20-year deal with Youngor Group Ltd., the largest men's suit manufacturer and retailer in China, to open a network of 400 Hart Schaffner Marx freestanding stores in that country. In addition to tailored clothing, the monobrand stores will sell all men's wear classifications including accessories, footwear, eyewear and fragrances.

Homi Patel, chairman and chief executive officer of Hart­marx, said following the shareholders' meeting in Chicago last week that the first six stores would be located within a 200-mile radius of Shanghai. "But as we grow, they will be all over the country."

There are plans to add 25 to 50 stores a year until the 400-store goal is reached.

Patel said Hartmarx and Young­or opted to roll out the HSM name because they "wanted to focus on a dedicated brand rather than general haberdashery stores."

He said Youngor would manufacture the suits in its factories and then sell them in the freestanding stores as well as franchised shops and in-store boutiques.

The deal with Youngor is expected to make a minimum of $1 million a year in licensing revenue. Last year, Hartmarx collected $25 million in revenues from outside the U.S., 85 percent of which came from Coppley in Canada; the remainder was from Bobby Jones in Europe, Patel said.

In the U.S., however, Hartmarx has had some challenges. At the meeting, Patel acknowledged that 2006 was "the toughest year we've had in a long time."

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