SARA LEE SET TO BUY HOST APPAREL INC.

Byline: Karyn Monget

NEW YORK — Host Apparel Inc., a manufacturer of women’s and men’s robes and loungewear, is in negotiations to be acquired by Sara Lee Corp.
Howard Cohen, president of Host Apparel, confirmed Tuesday that the privately held company was in discussions with Sara Lee’s Florida-based Harwood division, which produces men’s and boys’ boxer shorts.
“Nothing has been consummated,” Cohen said Tuesday.
Host Apparel, which primarily targets the men’s market, is estimated to generate annual revenues of more than $100 million, according tosources. In addition to a prolific private label business, which Cohen said produces between $30 million and $40 million in wholesale sales yearly, the company holds several high-profile licenses in the men’s robe and loungewear areas — the status labels Bill Blass, Christian Dior, Van Heusen, Munsingwear and Hanes, which is owned by Sara Lee.
Host Apparel also has a men’s underwear license bearing the Kenneth Cole name.
Jim Ostrowski, president of new business development at the Sara Lee personal products division would not comment.
Sara Lee said in May that it was narrowing its businesses to focus on three segments: intimates and underwear, food and beverage, and household products. Under the new structure — which was an indication of the new direction that C. Steven McMillan embarked upon when he succeeded John Bryan on July 1 as chief executive officer — intimates and men’s and women’s underwear would account for 41 percent of Sara Lee’s sales, the company’s second largest business.

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