The Mitchells Family of Stores just got larger. On Thursday, the Westport, Conn.-based specialty store chain finalized a deal to acquire Thomas Miller Menswear, a 33-year-old upscale retailer in Woodbury, N.Y.
This story first appeared in the May 21, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Thomas Miller store will close immediately, and the former owner, Thomas Miller; key salespeople, and head tailor — along with the store’s inventory of men’s wear — will move to Marshs in Huntington, N.Y., less than 5 miles away.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition is expected to add 20 percent to the current volume of Marshs and will create Long Island’s largest specialty store, said Bob Mitchell, co-president of the Mitchells Family of Stores.
Miller said he had been friendly with the Mitchell family for a long time and had discussed the possibility of a merger for several years. “We considered ourselves friendly competitors,” he said. “Our corporate cultures are very similar. We believe in keeping our customers close and giving the best possible service we can give.”
Additionally, the stores’ product mix is complementary, with Ermenegildo Zegna the top brand at both Marshs and Thomas Miller. “Ermenegildo Zegna has a very special relationship with the Mitchell organization, so we are pleased to learn they have purchased Thomas Miller, a long-standing Long Island customer,” said Robert Ackerman, chief executive officer of Zegna North America. “There are few retail stores in America that know their customers better or take better care of their customers than the Mitchell family.”
Other top men’s wear brands include Coppley, Ferragamo and Agave, as well as Brunello Cucinelli, Canali, Hugo Boss, Loro Piana, Eton, Etro, Gucci, Prada and Robert Graham.
Marshs also carries women’s wear from designers including Etro, Armani Collezioni, Theory, Vince, Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, St. John, Escada, Schumacher, Burberry, Valentino Red, Seven For All Mankind, J Brand and Phillip Lim, as well as an assortment of shoes, handbags and jewelry. Mitchell said he hopes to “leverage” Thomas Miller’s strong men’s wear business to gain more women’s sales. “We think for every million we add in men’s, we can pick up $300,000 in women’s,” he said.
All told, Marshs carries around three times the inventory as the 5,000-square-foot Thomas Miller store.
“We feel confident that we will transfer most of the business to Marshs,” said Mitchell. “We have the capacity to do more volume, grow the women’s business and sell his customers more than just made-to-measure.” Some 70 percent of Thomas Miller’s tailored clothing business is made-to-measure, he said.
Mitchell said 20 percent of the customers at Marshs and Thomas Miller overlap. “We tended to split our customer base so a merger really made sense,” Miller added.
The acquisition of Thomas Miller marks the first time the Mitchells have closed a store they have added to their stable. Mitchell explained that since the stores are so close, “it didn’t make sense” to keep both open.
He added that Marshs, which is the smallest of the Mitchells-owned stores in the Northeast, has “recovered as fast as the others. But the building is smaller and the business is smaller than the Connecticut stores.” Marshs is around 12,000 square feet, while Mitchells and Richards are more than 25,000 square feet each. “But Marshs is still one of the top 10 stores in the U.S. in terms of volume,” he said. He declined to provide a figure, but the Mitchells Family of Stores has annual volume in excess of $100 million.
Chris Mitchell, Bob’s cousin and general manager of Marshs, will be responsible for the integration of the businesses. He said, “I look forward to teaming up with Thomas Miller and his seasoned associates on the sales floor. We’ve talked about combining our stores for the past few years.”
In addition to Marshs, the Mitchell family owns Mitchells in Westport, Richards in Greenwich, Conn., and Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif.