MONTREAL — Holt Renfrew & Co. has hired Club Monaco founder Joe Mimran to head its private label women’s collection.

The move is part of a revamping of the collection that includes outsourcing all production. All wovens in the line are currently manufactured in Canada and all knitwear is made in Italy.

Holt’s three house brands have been consolidated into one signature label, which will continue to account for about 25 percent of the private company’s estimated annual sales of $260 million, based on current conversion rates with the Canadian dollar.

Holt president Andrew Jennings had earlier predicted that private label would grow to about 40 percent of the business, but said that figure was revised downward when customers demanded more upscale designer labels.

Mimran, who left Club Monaco after it was bought by Ralph Lauren in May 1999, officially joins Holt on a contract basis on Aug. 1, but is already working for them on a project basis.

His new line will be in Holt’s nine stores across Canada next fall, according to Jennings, who said Mimran was brought on board to "energize" the brand.

"He’s done a great job in the past and he will be the one to decide where product will come from," Jennings said. The key component to private label is that you have to keep fine-tuning it, which is why we hired Joe."

Mimran’s hiring makes sense, according to one retail analyst, since he’s already doing work for Galen Weston’s Loblaw supermarket chain, which owns Holt.

"Mimran knows about house brands because Loblaw’s President Choice is one of the most successful brands in the industry," said Richard Talbot of Richard Talbot Consultants International, Unionville, Ontario.

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