Marty Staff’s honeymoon period with Dov Charney at American Apparel Inc. has ended in a quick, if amicable, divorce.
Staff, who joined the company as chief business development officer in March, exited the role on Wednesday. Staff’s high-profile hiring seven months ago was aimed at jump-starting sales at the beleaguered company. He spearheaded programs that added new shop-in-shops in department stores in France and the U.K., and was involved in ongoing talks with Bloomingdale’s to add American Apparel shops here in the U.S.
“Dov is a one-man band, and I don’t think I realized how singular that vision is,” said Staff of Charney, who is founder, chairman and chief executive officer of American Apparel. “When I joined, I don’t think I realized how actively Dov manages every part of the company — from design to IT to marketing to finance. All roads lead through Dov. No judgment on that, but I think I was used to something more collaborative.”
Staff was previously president and ceo of JA Apparel Corp., owner of the Joseph Abboud brand. Earlier in his career, Staff was president and ceo of Hugo Boss Fashions Inc., the U.S. arm of Hugo Boss.
Staff said he has been in talks with several private equity players about potential investments in fashion and apparel companies. “I would say there are three groups that I’ve been speaking with on a pretty constant basis,” he said. “If I had my dream, I would replicate the Joseph Abboud deal and find a bona fide financial partner to acquire an undervalued brand.”
Staff was instrumental in putting together the 2004 acquisition of JA Apparel Corp. for $73 million by private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates.
Reached by phone, Charney declined to elaborate on the circumstances of Staff’s departure. In a statement, he noted: “Marty is one of the most experienced and capable professionals in our business, and his contributions to American Apparel have been very substantial. Marty is truly a dynamic figure in our industry, and I wish him all the best as he moves to the next chapter of his iconic career.”
Apart from Staff’s exit, Charney has his hands full raising additional financing for debt-laden American Apparel. According to sources, the company remains in talks with Colbeck Capital Management LLP, an investment firm affiliated with Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos., on raising about $90 million in new financing. Senior American Apparel executives were in New York this week, meeting with the investment group to hammer out details of the potential deal, which would buy American Apparel more breathing room on its burdensome debt load with Bank of America and Lion Capital.
However, a source said the terms offered by the Burkle group are not financially attractive, which could scuttle the deal.