WWD.com/globe-news/retail-business/mens-wearhouse-jumping-on-mma-wagon-2065651/

NEW YORK — The Men’s Wearhouse wants a piece of the mixed martial arts business.

In reporting significantly lower third-quarter earnings on Wednesday, the tailored clothing powerhouse revealed that it is adding jeans, T-shirts and other casualwear sportswear items to its Men’s Wearhouse and MW Tux stores.

The sportswear is flowing into stores now and will continue throughout 2009, CEO George Zimmer told analysts in an earnings call.

Although Zimmer was reticent to name the brands that are being offered, he said the mix will be “mostly branded” and will focus on “designer jeans” which now represent in excess of $1 billion in retail sales, a figure that is “rapidly closing in on the size of the suit market in the U.S.”

Zimmer did reveal, however, that the chains will be carrying Xtreme Couture T-shirts, a line of mixed martial arts shirts created by Randy Couture, a UFC heavyweight champion. MMA is a red-hot category with young men.

The shift in strategy is as a result of the higher number of younger customers who are now shopping in the Men’s Wearhouse and MW Tux stores since the company purchased the After Hours tuxedo rental chain last year. Zimmer referred to these customers as “millenniums.”

He noted: “Other retailers have the merchandise, but not the customers. We have the customers, but not the merchandise. That’s about to change.”

In the third quarter, the earnings fell nearly 40 percent, but the results managed to beat the mid-quarter guidance issued last month.

The Houston-based retailer reduced fourth-quarter and full-year earnings guidance based on expectations of same-store declines, possibly reaching into the low double-digit range at Men’s Wearhouse and K&G, in the fourth quarter.

Net income for the three months ended Nov. 1 fell 39 percent to $14.6 million, or 28 cents a diluted share, from $37.1 million, or 69 cents, in last year’s quarter. Excluding costs connected to the closure of the firm’s Golden Brand subsidiary in Canada, EPS was 30 cents, above consensus estimates of 24 cents as well as the 24 cent to 28 cent range projected by the company in October.

Sales fell 10.2 percent to $459.7 million from $512.1 million in the year-ago period. Clothing sales were off 12.9 percent to $334.4 million while tuxedo rental services inched up 0.4 percent to $96.5 million. Same-store sales fell 12.1 percent at Men’s Wearhouse and 13 percent at K&G.