NEW YORK — Licensing firm Concept One Accessories has acquired a majority stake in Helen Welsh Group, a four-year-old women’s accessories company.
The deal will help propel Concept One into the women’s market with the Helen Welsh brand, as well as other designer licenses and private label goods that are in the works. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Concept One, until now, has devoted only 10 percent of its business to women’s accessories. Its concentration has been in men’s headwear, cold weather accessories and bags for brands such as Sean John, Original Penguin, U.S. Polo Association and Levi Strauss Signature.
“We don’t want to tinker with [Welsh’s] product because she does a great job,” said Sam Hafif, chief executive officer of Concept One. “We have two strengths to bring to the table. Once is the financial side and to grow the infrastructure. The other is with sourcing.”
Concept One, based in New York, has a sourcing office in Shanghai.
Hafif plans to double Welsh’s sales to $16 million by 2007 by acquiring women’s licenses and doing more private label work that will be designed by Welsh. Hafif said Concept One’s sales were $32 million last year.
Welsh produces an eponymous line of handbags, cold weather goods and other accessories that are distributed at stores such as Dillard’s, Nordstrom and Macy’s. She also has a line for QVC in the U.S. and England called Currency by Helen Welsh.
Welsh will still hold an undisclosed stake in the company she founded and will remain president and creative director. Concept One also is planning to soon expand Welsh’s showroom at 141 West 36th Street in Manhattan to accommodate the new brands.
Welsh launched her company in 2002, after heading Liz Claiborne’s accessories division from 2000 to 2002. Before that, she was divisional merchandise manager of accessories at Saks Fifth Avenue, Off Fifth and Henri Bendel.
“I’m the creative, designer person,” Welsh said. “Now, with Sam [Hafif] taking care of the financial side and the business side of things, I can focus on design, marketing and sales, which is what I love.”