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Leslie Fay Seeks Trio Buyer

NEW YORK — The Leslie Fay Co. is putting Trio New York back on the block. <br><br>The decision to sell — which was made Thursday during a Leslie Fay board meeting — comes only eight months after the group acquired the ready-to-wear...

NEW YORK — The Leslie Fay Co. is putting Trio New York back on the block.

The decision to sell — which was made Thursday during a Leslie Fay board meeting — comes only eight months after the group acquired the ready-to-wear brand. More importantly, the change is the first major mark that chief executive W. John Short has made on the company since he assumed the position in March.

With a relatively quiet first few months on the job, Short said he has used the time to focus on the company’s finances, rethink strategies for growth and examine the brands that fill Leslie Fay’s various distribution channels. In a don’t-put-all-your-eggs-in-one-basket concept, Short said Trio — a nine-year-old company designed by husband-and-wife team Steven and Judy Garfield — has too similar of a market to other brands in the Leslie Fay stable, specifically David Warren and the licensed Liz Claiborne Dresses and Liz Claiborne Evening lines.

“Trio was not a strategic fit in terms of remapping,” Short told WWD, noting that the selling of Trio did not stem from a lack of performance. In fact, he said Trio’s business was up from last year. Though he wouldn’t disclose figures, industry sources estimate Trio’s annual volume to be around $12 million. “When you look at the power of the Liz Claiborne and David Warren names, Liz is the top of the heap and David Warren is a strong second. Trio is a faraway third in our stable of brands. So the thinking comes from, ‘Do you start to cannibalize yourself by having too much investment in the same channel?’”

Short said there are no plans to sell other areas of the Leslie Fay business, which is owned by private investment firm Three Cities Research, private investment group Constable Partners, and members of management.