NEW YORK — Celebrating its 80th anniversary as the grand dame of the bra industry, Maidenform is embarking on a new ad campaign while enhancing product development.

Three years after emerging from bankruptcy, Maidenform has been reinvigorated. Thomas J. Ward, Maidenform’s president and chief executive officer, said the future for the venerable foundations maker looks healthy, following a cash infusion by First Union Bank unit Congress Financial of $82.5 million and a $60 million revolving credit credit line in May 2001, secured by receivables and inventory.

Additionally, a $7.5 million two-year term loan by Congress Financial was secured by certain retail assets. At the time, the two major shareholders, GE Capital and Oaktree Capital, had agreed to make a $15 million cash investment in the company.

In 2000, net sales were $245 million. In 2001, the company’s volume reached about $250 million, said Ward. He would not update the company’s debt load, but it was $50 million last year.

The big news for spring 2003 is that Maidenform is reigniting a national advertising campaign after a several-year hiatus.

"Beginning in August on an annualized basis, our ad budget will be $6 million," said Maurice Reznik, president of the Maidenform brand.

Reznik said national print advertising will commence this month in the New York Times Magazine and Fashions of the Times and will be featured in Harper’s Bazaar and Latina magazine in September, as well as the US and Marie Claire October editions.

Manette Schneininger, senior vice president of marketing at Maidenform, said regional multimedia outdoor advertising will be supported by New York commuter rail sheets at train stations, posters at phone kiosks and mobile billboards on trucks and buses.

She added that over 1,000 press kits have been mailed nationally and internationally to fashion editors, stylists and fashion and image consultants in TV, radio, newspapers and magazines.

The new tag line will be: "This Is the One That Will Become Everyone’s Favorite Bra."

Ward noted there are plans in the works to expand licensed Maidenform products. So far, licensees include Teen Bras at Delta USA, sleepwear at Sleep Club’s Club House Creations and slippers at Weisner.In terms of product, the newest and most successful introduction is a bra called One Fabulous Fit, which Schneininger describes as "the bra reinvented." It offers a comprehensive size range that’s very body friendly, lightweight microfiber for great feel against the skin and fashion-conscious styling and smooth cups for seamless perfection," she said.

The One Fabulous Fit line has expanded for spring to include seven styles: a classic smooth look, a jacquard style with a sweetheart neckline, a stretch lace number with lace trim, an eyelet demi-cup style, an active T-back look, a no-wire contour and a no-slip strapless bra.

As Schneininger put it: "The two-way stretch foam cups are fit forgiving."

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