NEW YORK — William Sweedler, head of the Joe Boxer division of Iconix Brand Group, is leaving after less than a year.
Sweedler joined Iconix last July after it acquired Boxer for $80 million from Windsong Allegiance Group LLC, based in Westport, Conn. Sweedler also had led the brand under Windsong. Joe Boxer is sold primarily at Kmart stores, a nameplate operated by Sears Holdings Corp.
Sweedler could not be reached for comment, but is said to be leaving at the end of this month.
“Bill Sweedler’s contribution to Joe Boxer was enormous,” said William Susman, president and chief operating officer of investment banking firm Financo Inc., which represented Windsong in the sale to Iconix. “Windsong today is an exciting apparel company, given its opportunities. Bill is a great talent, wherever he chooses to apply his energies.”
Joe Boxer was founded in 1985 by Nick Graham and sold to Windsong in March 2001. Joe Boxer’s operating assets, trademarks and trade names were included in the sale.
As a subsidiary under Windsong’s umbrella, Joe Boxer signed a long-term exclusive agreement with Kmart in 2001, with the goal of relaunching the brand with a new line of home and apparel products. At the time of Windsong’s acquisition, Joe Boxer had a wholesale volume of $100 million and was sold primarily at department stores, including Federated Department Stores, May Department Stores, Saks Inc., Dillard’s and Marshall Field’s.
Joe Boxer was the first major department store brand to migrate to a discounter. Kmart gained the right to sell and manufacture Joe Boxer products and control the brand’s entire distribution.
A source familiar with the change at Iconix said Sweedler will likely return to Windsong, which owns the Alexander Julian and Como brands.
Financial sources, including investment bankers, said Iconix is contemplating a secondary public offering and that Merrill Lynch will likely be the underwriter. Neither a Merrill Lynch spokeswoman nor Neil Cole, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Iconix, could be reached for comment.
Iconix on Tuesday said Gail Tentler has joined the company as managing director of international licensing. The brand management firm a week ago said it entered into a licensing agreement with First American Brands, a subsidiary of Italian fragrance marketer Vapro International, for its Bongo brand. The Bongo line will launch for Holiday 2006 and will be distributed to mid-tier department and specialty stores, retailing for $28 to $45.