Samuelsohn Ltd., the Montreal-based tailored clothing brand, has been sold to Grano Retail Investments, an investment and advisory company headed by Stephen Granovsky. Terms were not disclosed, but financing was provided by BDC, Canada’s business development bank.
Granovsky, Grano’s founder and chief executive officer, will become ceo of Samuelsohn, an 87-year-old family-owned business. Twin brothers Michael and Richard Samuelsohn, grandsons of the founder, will exit the company.
Grano’s plan is to significantly enhance the visibility of the business, expand distribution and add product classifications. The firm produces private label suits for Paul Stuart and Harry Rosen and sells its own Samuelsohn-label goods to 250 upscale specialty stores in the U.S. and Canada.
“Speaking both as a customer and an observer, Samuelsohn is the best maker of men’s tailored clothing in North America,” Granovsky told WWD in an exclusive interview revealing the deal. “It’s second to none, but it flies below the radar screen. We believe we can transform this from a great producer to a great brand. There’s enormous potential here.”
Step one is the formation of a new senior management team. The first appointment is Paolo Torello-Viera, former chief operating officer and executive vice president of Brioni Retail U.S., who has been named chief operating officer of Samuelsohn. He also has been executive vice president of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group. Within 30 days, Granovsky said, he will name a vice president of manufacturing and a sales and marketing executive with “deep men’s wear experience.”
“The brand hasn’t had the merchandising, sales and marketing support that it needs,” he added. “If we can build upon that foundation, we can double or triple the size of the business in the next five years.” The volume of the privately held company was not disclosed.
The company’s manufacturing facilities in Montreal will be retained, Granovsky said, although the Samuelsohn family will continue to own the factory building. Grano has signed a long-term lease for the space and will continue to produce all the product there. “It’s a great facility,” Granovsky said. “There’s a price point in premium men’s wear where domestic skill is a real advantage. And there’s a real magic in the culture of that building.”
Samuelsohn produces suits that retail for $1,200 on average, with some models selling for $1,600 to $1,700, placing it at the “opening price point of the premium market. The days of the $2,000 to $4,000 suit are gone,” he said. “There’s been a permanent change in the customers’ perception of value and Samuelsohn is in a position to capitalize on the recessionary environment.”
Granovsky said he plans to update the “fashion point of view” of the company’s offerings — “They’re not where they need to be” — and expand distribution. “We want to make it available in more places,” he said. “But we will be very careful.”
Additionally, there’s a “huge opportunity in additional product categories such as furnishings and complementary sportswear,” he said.
Before founding Grano Retail Investments with Lawrence Pollack in 2007, Granovsky was president of Karabus Management, a retail consulting business, for 12 years. Prior to that, he worked in his family’s men’s retail business in Canada. Grano focuses on small to midsize acquisitions in retail, wholesale and manufacturing. Its other acquisitions include Pindoff Record Sales and DEP, music industry companies, and Storeforce Solutions Inc., a software company.
Samuelsohn was founded in 1923 by Lesser Samuelsohn, a clothing designer from Rochester, N.Y., who had emigrated to Canada in 1912. Michael and Richard Samuelsohn have been involved in the business since the Sixties.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
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Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast