Ben Sherman Prepares to Exit Women’s Wear

Ben Sherman Group Ltd is to focus on its core men’s wear business.

Ben Sherman Group Ltd. plans to close its women’s wear division and focus on its core men’s wear business.

This story first appeared in the December 21, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Miles Gray, the outgoing group chief executive officer, said Friday the company, a division of Oxford Industries, planned to focus on its strongest performing division.

“We have a 50-year history in producing great men’s wear with significant success internationally with leading store groups,” he said, adding the company would continue to roll out branded stores “concentrating on our complete men’s wear lifestyle offer.”

Men’s wear generates the bulk of the business, and women’s wear represents 10 to 15 percent of sales. The company said it was seeking to “minimize potential head count reductions” as it plans to wind up the women’s business.

In an interview with WWD last month, Gray was frank about the tough year Ben Sherman had in 2009. For the second quarter ended Aug. 1, Ben Sherman net sales declined 27.3 percent to $23.6 million. In the first half of the fiscal year, net sales declined 30.7 percent to $47.8 million. The company recently underwent restructuring due to declining sales during the recession, reduced its head count and discontinued its footwear and children’s lines, taking a $1.4 million charge in the second quarter. Gray said those categories would relaunch next year via licensing agreements with Hudson Shoes and Flyers Group, respectively.

“Business is tough, and we need to concentrate on our area of expertise,” said Gray last month.

As reported, Pan Philippou has been named ceo and will take over in January. Philippou was group ceo of U.K.-based clothing group WDT and had served as ceo of Diesel USA. Gray will become nonexecutive chairman of the group.