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Grano Retail Holdings has big plans for Hickey Freeman.
This story first appeared in the October 24, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Late Monday, the privately held investment firm finalized its acquisition of all the tangible assets of the Hickey Freeman brand, including its factory in Rochester, N.Y., from W Diamond Group. Under the terms of the deal, which was first reported by WWD in July, Grano signed a 40-year license with Authentic Brands Group, which purchased the Hickey Freeman label as part of its acquisition of HMX Group last year, to produce the brand.
“We are delighted to complete this acquisition and focus on working with the great employees of Hickey Freeman to grow the business,” said Stephen Granovsky, chief executive officer of Grano, which also owns the Samuelsohn men’s wear brand. “We believe in this industry and continue to search for opportunities to expand our footprint in luxury men’s apparel.”
Grano believes that under his company’s tutelage, Hickey can grow as much as 50 percent over the next three to five years. And combined with its other men’s label, the Montreal-based Samuelsohn, the brands can eventually have sales of $100 million, he projected.
Granovsky will serve as ceo of the newly formed Hickey Freeman Tailored Clothing company. Arnold Brant Silverstone, Samuelsohn’s president, will be chief creative officer of both brands, and Alan Abramowicz will become president and chief operating officer of HFTC.
“We’re very excited,” Silverstone said. “With the two brands, it should make us the largest luxury tailored clothing manufacturer in North America.”
He said the 210,000-square-foot Hickey factory can produce both full and half canvas clothing, while the Samuelsohn factory in Montreal produces only full-canvas garments. Since the Hickey factory is not at full capacity, “this opens the door for some opportunities,” Silverstone said.
In addition, he said the plan is to create “younger product that will be shorter, tighter and cooler.” That collection, which will have its own distinct name, will retail for less than $1,000, Silverstone said, and will be produced either under license or in-house. The name, which has yet to be determined, will most likely have the words “for Hickey Freeman” on its label, he said. “We want to have that association.” An off-the-rack Hickey suit opens at around $1,495.
Hickey’s made-to-measure presence will also be increased. Currently, only around one-quarter of Hickey’s business comes from the made-to-measure category, but Silverstone expects to grow that number to around 35 percent within a few seasons. “That’s what we did with Samuelsohn over three years,” he said, “and we want to do the same with Hickey.”
He said the company is also “working on more than one licensing agreement for the brand” in order to “give it bigger scope.”
All told, Grano is planning to invest significantly to revamp the venerable label, which was founded in 1899. That will include new fits and styles, updated packaging and labeling, a new marketing campaign and a new showroom in New York City. “It’s massive what we have to undertake,” Silverstone said.
The showroom will be “separate and distinct” from Samuelsohn’s U.S. office and showroom on West 57th Street, he said. “We want the brands to grow on their own. But we’re hoping it will be in the same neighborhood. We’re negotiating and looking for space now.”
Silverstone also noted that the key management at Hickey has been retained, including Jon Morales, vice president of design. Silverstone said the company will add vice president positions in marketing, merchandising, manufacturing and sales. “And we’ll keep growing our team in operations and systems,” he said.
Silverstone added that while “you’re going to see some tweaks for fall ’14, the full impact won’t be felt until spring ’15.”
Since being acquired by Grano in 2010, Samuelsohn’s volume has grown fourfold, according to the company, which did not provide a volume figure. It produces private-label suits for Paul Stuart and Harry Rosen, and sells its own Samuelsohn-label goods to more than 250 upscale department and specialty stores in the U.S. and Canada.
In a letter to employees sent after the deal was finalized, Doug Williams, the former ceo of HMX and current ceo of W Diamond, said Granovsky and his partner Lawrence Pollack “have done an amazing job with Samuelsohn since they acquired it several years ago and will be equally amazing owners and stewards of the Hickey Freeman brand. The entire team at W Diamond looks forward to them enhancing the traditions of Hickey Freeman and supporting all of their future efforts.”