Byline: Katherine Bowers

LOS ANGELES — Changes are afoot for private label denim giant Tarrant Apparel Group, which said Friday that it has promoted company veteran Eddy Tak Yu Yuen to chief executive officer.
Gerard Guez, who founded the manufacturer 17 years ago and had held the ceo title, will remain chairman.
Yuen, 46, was formerly president of Tarrant Mexico, overseeing the publicly traded company’s vertical operation there. He also oversaw Tarrant’s Hong Kong operations.
The company, which reported revenues of $395 million in 2000, also laid off roughly 3 percent of its workforce last week, Guez confirmed.
And more news is expected from Tarrant shortly, according to industry sources, who said the company might merge with Azteca Production International Inc., a denim operation owned by Guez’s brothers, Paul and Hubert. Azteca produces contemporary lines Hippie Jeans and Joe’s Denim, as well as private label denim for major retailers.
Guez said merger speculation was “just rumors right now.” Azteca did not return a call seeking comment at press time.
“Eddy has been with us for the whole life of this company,” Guez said. “He helped develop a great business model, and with this rounding out of his experience, it’s only natural for him to take the top job.”
Guez added he will be “as active as ever, opening new markets for the company and finding strategic deals.” Giving up the ceo slot was “not a step down, [but] a step up.”
Tarrant, a denim producer, has seen orders pushed back 30 to 60 days since Sept. 11, but has not had significant cancellations, Guez said. He said border delays getting goods up from the company’s Mexican operation have been negligible.
“We only need 32 hours, so if it takes two days instead of one, it’s no trouble,” he added.
Tarrant’s stock closed Friday at $3.98, up 14 cents, in Nasdaq trading, down from a 52-week high of $7.12.

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