NEW YORK — Increasing its corduroy business, becoming more entrenched as a key resource for wrinkle-free fabrics and building on the launch of its synthetic fabrics division are among the key matters on Galey & Lord’s agenda for 1994.

Arthur C. Wiener, chairman and president, outlined those intentions Tuesday to about 35 shareholders attending the firm’s annual meeting, held at the Macklowe Hotel here.

They were seemingly happy with what they heard, as no one asked any questions, and matters were concluded in about a half hour.

“We’ve been pleased with our first-quarter performance, and we are on target with a business plan that’s very aggressive,” Wiener told the group. “Most elements are up, certain ones are down, such as printed fabrics. In addition, our export business has slowed down. Overall, however, our business plan is intact.”

Galey & Lord reported an increase of 6.2 percent in income before accounting changes in the first quarter ended Jan. 1. Earnings before accounting changes were $4.3 million, but after a $1.6 million charge, net earnings were $2.7 million, against $4 million a year ago. On a per-share basis, earnings were 36 cents before the charge, and the net was 23 cents against 34 cents a year ago.

Sales were $99.1 million, up 17 percent from $84.7 million in the year-ago quarter.

Wiener attributed the sales increase to a 69 percent jump in fabrics made from man-made fibers and a 19 percent rise in woven fabrics, offset by a 7 percent reduction in printed fabrics. “Developing more wrinkle-free products to fit into women’s wear manufacturing and women’s wear garments is one of the key challenges we’ve given to our merchants and product development people,” Wiener said in an interview prior to the stockholders meeting. Currently all of Galey & Lord’s wrinkle-free business is in 100 percent cotton fabrics, said Wiener, adding that, “while I won’t get into specifics, we are working on new things.”

Galey & Lord derives 75 percent of its men’s wear sales from wrinkle-free fabrics; about 14 percent of its women’s wear business. Among its key customers are Haggar, Levi Strauss and Farah.

“We think in the June quarter, our women’s wear wrinkle-free business can increase to 30 percent,” Wiener said.

As for corduroy, Wiener said the business is growing, as evidenced “by the number of five-pocket jeans makers that are coming back into corduroy.”

“I believe this year will be the first time in a long time that our corduroy business will be better than the previous year for two consecutive years,” Wiener said. He noted Galey & Lord’s corduroy sales in 1993 were up 7 percent, “and are up over that so far this year.”.

Wiener also said the synthetic fabric division, begun last year and mainly involved in two-piece dressing, enjoyed an excellent first quarter.

Still, printed fabrics continue to dog the company.

“While we are happy with the marketing and merchandising steps we’ve taken, we aren’t happy with the overall market,” Wiener said. One of those steps includes aiming to increase business in moderately priced branded women’s wear.

Wiener also said the firm’s initial shipments of printed knit fabrics are moving well, primarily into men’s shirtings, dresses and loungewear.

Although export sales so far have been slow, he said, “we think we can export about $15 million to $20 million this year.”

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