Emerisque Brands is on the hunt again after the acquisition of the once bankrupt Hartmarx Corp., in partnership with SKNL North America B.V.
Ajay Khaitan, who heads the U.K.-based investment firm, hopes to build critical mass for Emerisque within the next 12 to 24 months. That means more than one or two acquisitions a year.
“Our vision is to buy and build a multibrand, multiproduct position with a number of investments,” he said last year.
Emerisque is not a private equity firm, which can work to Khaitan’s advantage. The firm is self-funded, meaning Emerisque has ready access to investors its principals can tap when it has opportunities.
Khaitan is eyeing underperforming “heritage brands” that have a history, as well as critical mass with wholesale sales between $75 million and $750 million.
Presuming the brand’s core DNA remains intact, “what you do with a brand in other markets doesn’t correlate to what is done with the brand in mature markets,” Khaitan said last year.
In the case of Lee Cooper, the U.K. denim brand that Emerisque no longer owns, two-thirds of its sales in Europe are in jeans, while two-thirds of its sales in the Middle East are in T-shirts. Khaitan said Lee Cooper remains the largest-selling jeans brand by volume in the Middle East.
Hartmarx, renamed HMX Group, is under the management of chief executive officer Doug Williams and Joseph Abboud, who this month was named president and chief creative officer. Mature brands such as Hartmarx, which is in turnaround mode, could take as long as three years before there is a return to profitability, Khaitan said.