GROUP EYES MASS SOCK MARKET
NEW YORK — The purchasers of Kayser-Roth Corp.’s plant in Rockwood, Tenn., plan to expand it into a major sock manufacturing facility for the mass market.
Last week, Kayser-Roth announced an agreement to sell its Balfour Health Care division and sock manufacturing facility — both under the same roof at Rockwood — to Ullman Holdings Corp., a recently formed Chicago-based venture capital group. The deal is expected to be completed by Oct. 15. Terms were not disclosed.
The Rockwood facility will now be called Balfour Inc., said Gary Ullman, chief executive officer of Ullman Holdings, who formed the group in February with 14 private and institutional investors, including Harris Bank of Chicago.
As part of the agreement, Balfour will retain the facility’s current 390 employees and will continue to manufacture 20 percent of Kayser-Roth’s socks, according to Gary Malloch, president and ceo of Kayser-Roth.
Under Kayser-Roth in the past, the Balfour Healthcare division manufactured and distributed surgical packs and gowns as well as other medical supplies.
“The facility was not clearly in line with making legwear, which is our focus going forward,” Malloch said. “Our objective has always been to concentrate on that core business.”
Ullman, who resigned in January as president and ceo of CCL Industries, a Toronto-based personal care and household products manufacturer, said the company will also produce some goods for Ullman Holdings’ newly acquired Vita Health Inc., a Canadian vitamin manufacturer, and for Quality Home Products, a Canadian health and beauty aid manufacturer, both of which will be part of Balfour’s health division.
William Zinser, who retired in 1992 as ceo of Rospatch Inc., a maker of knitwear and labels in Grand Rapids, Mich., will be ceo of Balfour. Mark Morrow, who has been operations manager for Kayser-Roth in Rockwood, will head up the Balfour Sock division as vice president and continue to oversee the business done there with Kayser-Roth.
Balfour plans to triple the annual business done in socks produced at the 258,000-square-foot plant from its present $30 million to $100 million in the next three to five years by developing a private label business, Ullman said. The products will target food, drug and general mass merchandisers, ranging from Walgreens to Wal-Mart, he said.
The plant has the capability to step up production “without adding bricks and mortar,” he said.
Kayser-Roth is a subsidiary of Legwear Holdings Corp., controlled by a group of Mexican investors that include Grupo Synkro SA de CV, a large Mexican hosiery producer. Kayser-Roth’s primary brand is No Nonsense. Under license, it produces Calvin Klein, Hue, Burlington and Easy Spirit legwear.