DENIM DISH

Silver Jeans’ U.S. Push
In a move it described as necessary to support its growth in the U.S., Winnipeg-based Silver Jeans has promoted Steve Sertner to the newly created post of vice president of sales for the U.S.
“The sales have increased to a level where it’s been difficult for the head office to tackle everything that’s going on. Volume has gone up and so has the quantity of offices,” said Michael Silver, president of the company. “We needed to create a division to help plan our U.S. sales better.”
Silver noted that the company now has a Los Angeles showroom, in addition to its New York offices where Sertner is based, and that the jeans firm’s U.S. staff is now about 15, up from about eight this time last year. U.S. sales now represent about 75 percent of the line’s total revenues, he added. last year, Silver Jeans had sales of about $65 million in the U.S.
Sertner had previously served as regional sales manager. The company plans to fill that position over the next few months, Silver noted.
In a related move, the company promoted Mark Whyte, formerly regional sales manager of Canada, to the new position of vice president of sales for that country. His former position will be filled, as well. Both executives continue to report to Silver.
Silver said the moves “will free up my time to get myself more involved on the marketing side and looking at future markets outside of North America.”

Casual Friday Payoff
The Lee Co. said it believes it has raised in excess of $6 million for breast cancer research through this year’s edition of Lee National Denim Day.
In the annual event, employees of major U.S. companies and institutions contribute $5 for the privilege of wearing jeans to work. Proceeds go to the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
According to Kathy Collins, vice president of marketing communications for the Merriam, Kans.-based brand, a total of 18,900 companies — employing five million workers — participated this year, up from a little under 17,000 last year.
While Lee doesn’t have a final tally on the number of workers who participated — it will take a few weeks for the actual contributions to trickle in to the foundation — Collins said based on past response levels, the company believes the event raised at least $6 million.
So Friday, the day of the event, celebrity spokesman Rob Lowe presented an oversize check for more than $6 million to the foundation — rules regarding novelty scrip are apparently a little more lenient than those on the more standard kind.
“When we make out our big check, it’s everybody’s best guess,” Collins explained.
The largest corporate participants in the event this year were J.C. Penney Co., Goody’s Family Clothing, Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Kohl’s Corp., Collins said. In addition, a number of financial institutions, hospitals and schools participated, she added.
The event has grown significantly from its 1996 first edition, which raised $1.4 million. Last year, more than one million employees from some 17,000 companies participated, raising $5.8 million. Over its history, the event has raised $16.5 million for the charity, not including this year’s contributions.
Collins said given the “huge level of participation” the event had this year, the $6 million estimate is actually the organizers’ most conservative guess.
“It could be closer to $7 million,” she added.

Spinoff Pains at Duck Head
A former executive of casualwear maker Duck Head Apparel Co. — recently spun off from Delta Woodside Industries — has filed a proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell the company to another industry concern.
The investor and former executive, Bettis Rainsford, stepped down last fall as chief financial officer of Delta Woodside, which had spent the previous two years in a sometimes-tortuous restructuring process. After considering many options, the company had finally resolved on spinning off its two apparel operations, Duck Head and Delta Apparel Co.
In December, shortly after resigning, Rainsford — who held a 13.9 percent stake in the company — revealed that he was unhappy with the plan and said he was going to make a counteroffer to buy the firm outright. His efforts came to naught, though, and the two subsidiaries were spun off to shareholders in July.
Now, Rainsford — who also holds a 13.9 percent stake in Duck Head, plans to nominate directors, including himself, to the board of Duck Head and, if elected, sell the company to Knight Textile Corp., a Saluda, S.C.-based apparel manufacturer.
His proposed slate of directors also includes Talmadge Knight, owner of the proposed buyer.
According to the filing, if elected to the board at the company’s Nov. 8 annual meeting, Rainsford intends to redeem the company’s common stock purchase rights and sell the firm. The sale would result in the disposition of Rainsford’s 334,218 shares, which are worth about $417,773 at current market value.
Duck Head reported losses of $500,000 in its fourth quarter ended July 1 compared to a $36.3 million deficit a year ago. The 1999 quarter included a $13.7 million impairment charge. Sales for the period fell 36 percent to $10.6 million against $16.7 million a year ago.
The company attributed the improved results to the lowering of product cost through improved sourcing, better inventory management and the lowering of overhead costs.

Jeans Chains See Mixed September
While overall same-store sales results for September came in ahead of expectations, despite concerns of a possible slowdown in consumer spending, two publicly traded jeans retail operations reported mixed results for the month.
Keeping its turnaround efforts on track, Designs Inc., which operates a chain of 106 outlet stores selling Levi’s and Dockers merchandise, posted a 2 percent comp-store sales increase for the month. The Needham, Mass.-based chain this year is operating under new management under a mandate to turn its results around. After a few tough years, the company has turned in comp-store sales increases in three of the last four months — missing that target only in August.
Overall sales for the month reached $20.1 million, up 3 percent.
Meanwhile, Guess Inc. saw its comps for the month slip 3.1 percent, breaking a 27-month streak of increases.
As reported, Guess management had warned that heavy markdowns in a highly competitive and promotional retail environment would cause it to fall behind plan in September and miss third-quarter and possibly fourth-quarter earnings projections. Still, the slip follows a strong retail run for the year — the company noted that comps for the first nine months of 2000 were up 10.9 percent, including the September slip.
Total sales for the month were $29.3 million, up 25.6 percent, reflecting about 35 stores opened by the Los Angeles-based company so far this year.

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