Rubel Family in Dallas, Texas on January 28, 2017. (Photo/Sharon Ellman)

Investment bank PJ Solomon is feeling more bullish on retail and bulking up to grab more deals, bringing on industry veteran Matthew Rubel as a senior adviser.

Rubel will work with David Shiffman and Cathy Leonhardt, coheads of the bank’s global retail group, and with managing director Jeff Derman, offering advice and insight on the retail and consumer goods industries.

Most recently, Rubel was chief executive officer and president of Varsity Brands, but he is also well-known as former chairman and ceo of Collective Brands Inc., which included Payless ShoeSource Inc., Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Stride Rite and Keds. He also worked in the past at Cole Haan, J. Crew Group, Popular Club Plan, Revlon and Murjani International as well as with Roark Capital Group and TPG Capital.

He is currently an independent director at Hudson’s Bay Co. and TreeHouse Foods and executive chairman of toymaker KidKraft.

“Retail success hinges on knowing and understanding the customer, particularly during this period of historic transformation that we have experienced in recent years,” Rubel said.

Shiffman said retail is heating up and that PJ Solomon, with a long history in the industry, wants to be ready as more companies look to buy and sell.

He said retail has a “healthy deal market” that’s something of a mixed bag with many different kinds of transactions from smaller growth companies looking to partner to mature firms repositioning.

“I don’t feel that it’s just following the macro market,” Shiffman said. “The dealmaking is very strategic. The survivors over the past few years have gotten more strategic, they’ve gotten more efficient. The big keep getting bigger and stronger and more valuable.

“Ceos have built their confidence over time,” he said. “When you have confident ceo’s and high stock prices and relatively low interest rates….all that in the mix provides an optimism and deals get done when people are optimistic and believe in their strategies and their people and their teams.”

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