The ink is barely dry on the court’s approval of Emerisque Brands’ bid for Hartmarx Corp. and important company executives are already heading for the exit.
Hartmarx said Monday that Glenn Morgan, chief financial officer; Paulette Garafalo, group president of the luxury group, and Susan Falk, group president of women’s, will leave the company effective today.
Hartmarx’s chief executive officer, Homi Patel, said the executives “will truly be missed, and I personally will miss their counsel and loyalty.” The executives are among the most senior and respected of the management staff.
Emerisque, whose purchase of Hartmarx is expected to be completed on July 7, is not expected to address issues of management before that date. As reported, Emerisque said it wanted to review the company and staff before making any changes.
Morgan, who is retiring, is a 30-year veteran of Hartmarx and was instrumental in making several acquisitions that changed the nature of the company.
Garafalo and Falk have resigned. Garafolo, who managed the Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx businesses for 11 years, is credited with updating those heritage businesses and posting consistent profits. Patel also noted she “oversaw the growth of a very large and profitable Burberry tailored clothing business. During her tenure, her group was consistently profitable year-in and year-out, including this very difficult most recent period.”
Falk, who joined Hartmarx in 2005, has a long career in the women’s business that included chief executive officer of Henri Bendel, ceo of Express and president of Diane von Furstenberg. She was charged with developing the fledgling women’s business and oversaw the Christopher Blue, Misook and the now-defunct Zooey lines. Patel said: “She has been instrumental in upgrading several of our women’s wear lines and has participated in helping grow our very successful women’s jeans business. She leaves behind a large and profitable women’s segment.”
Garafalo’s departure is a significant blow for the company. Under her tutelage, she transformed Hickey Freeman from a tailored clothing brand to a luxury label, created a network of retail doors, launched the offshoot contemporary brand hickey and repositioned Hart Schaffner Marx as a classic but modern suit label that famously won the endorsement of President Obama. One of the few female executives in a market dominated by men, she quickly won the respect of the industry.
The circumstances surrounding the departures could not be learned at press time, nor could it be learned who would assume their responsibilities.
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