WOLFORD TO GO PUBLIC IN EUROPE NEXT SPRING

NEW YORK — Wolford AG, the Bregenz, Austria-based manufacturer of luxury hosiery and bodywear, plans to go public in Europe next spring.
The company will make an official announcement Jan. 23 of its intention to have its shares traded on the Vienna stock exchange. A week later, on Jan. 30, it will announce plans to be traded on the Paris Bourse.
According to Russell J. Klein, president of Easton International, the exclusive U.S. distributor for Wolford, the Austrian company is exploring the market to determine if it would be receptive to a Wolford issue, and working up the necessary paperwork. A final decision on a public offering, Klein said, would be made by the Austrian banks. He said he could not estimate how long the process would take.
Earnings at the firm have been on the rise. According to Wolford’s latest annual report covering the year through April 1994, earnings were up 44 percent to $4.1 million (45.2 million Austrian schillings) at current exchange rates. Turnover, however, was off 11 percent to $80.5 million (885.1 million schillings).
A year earlier, earnings came to 31.3 million schillings on sales of 996.2 million schillings.
The company said the decline in turnover resulted from a deliberate reduction of private label sales. It pointed out that it discontinued its contracting relationship with Marks & Spencer, which in the prior year accounted for sales of $4.7 million (52 million schillings). Overall, the company said private label business has been cut by 37 percent.
Branded business was up 2 percent, the company said.
In the first half of the current year, turnover was ahead 11 percent and branded business was up 19 percent, the company said. Forward orders were up 26 percent from the year-earlier level, it said.
In its principal markets, sales in the half were up 15 percent in Germany, 22 percent in the U.K., 47 percent in Switzerland, 74 percent in Italy and 91 percent in Spain.
In addition to its store accounts, Wolford has three boutiques in the U.S. — one on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, another in Short Hills, N.J., and the third in Chicago on Oak Street. They are owned and operated by Chicago businessman James Casty. Leases have been signed for new stores to be opened by Casty in California, one on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and the other in the South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa. Both will open in March.
— Fairchild News Service

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