BRITANNIA’S NEW NAME: Britannia, the mass market denim line owned by Levi Strauss, will soon have the Levi’s name on its collateral material.
The new label, which reads “Britannia, from the makers of Levi Strauss” on denim products and “Britannia, from Levi Strauss Co.” on nondenim products, will be in Kmart stores at the end of March, said a spokeswoman for Levi’s.
“Kmart will break the new product in circulars and advertisements, but the product is not exclusive to Kmart,” she said.
Levi Strauss will also be tagged on Britannia pocket flashers and point-of-sale materials.
While the Levi’s brand has been enjoying consistently rapid growth in an otherwise sluggish denim market, it has not been backing the Britannia brand as aggressively as other image-building segments such as Dockers and SilverTab. That will change, according to the company.
“We’re really trying to increase the association of Levi Strauss with Britannia,” said the spokeswoman. “That’s our point of differentiation in a very competitive market.”

CHIC LOSS: Slammed by a $15 million restructuring charge, Chic by HIS Inc. lost $13.7 million in the first quarter ended Feb. 3.
As reported last month, the company, a jeans producer for the mass market, said it would take the charge to close some manufacturing facilities and reduce its work force. Chic said this will result in a savings of $3.6 million over the next 12 months.
Excluding the charge, earnings slid 13.8 percent to $1.2 million, or 13 cents a share, from $1.4 million, or 15 cents, a year ago.
The decline stemmed from a 7.2 percent drop in sales to $70.8 million from $76.3 million and a hike in interest expense to $1.9 million from $1 million.
Gross margins improved to 22.8 percent from 22.1 percent. Licensing income rose to $1.6 million from $1.2 million. Selling, general and administrative expenses dipped slightly, to 18.9 percent of sales from 19 percent.

CALVIN IN JAPAN: Calvin Klein’s Japanese subsidiary is rolling out several shops for the designer’s CK jeans and bridge lines. The first opened last month at the Isetan department store in Shinjuku, near Tokyo. There are plans for 19 more CK Jeans shops this spring and 16 in the fall.
“By setting two CK Calvin Klein shops [one for jeans and one for bridge] on the first floor at Isetan, we want to say to consumers that we exclusively offer CK Calvin Klein’s merchandise around this market,” said Jiro Tokumitsu, a director at Isetan.
Isetan is a minor shareholder of Calvin Klein Japan. CK Calvin Klein used to be a private brand of the retailer.
All the merchandise is manufactured by OBT, a wholly owned subsidiary of Onward Kashiyama. OBT runs the shop, which took over the space from AgnAs B.
The CK Jeans shop is 85 square feet, and the CK bridge shop is 250 square feet.
“This is the first time that we’ve opened a CK Jeans shop in a department store in Japan,” said Koichi Yoshida, a spokesman for Calvin Klein Japan, which runs the CK Jeans shop.
Sales for the first year from both shops are expected to reach $9.5 million (1 billion yen), according to Calvin Klein Japan.

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