ECHO DESIGN BUYS MONSAC BAG FIRM

Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Furthering its goal of becoming a multi-product and multi-brand company, the Echo Design Group on Friday acquired Monsac International.
Monsac, founded nearly three years ago by Eugene and Rachel Gershburg, sells its collection of handbags, small leather goods and travel pieces to roughly 250 to 300 better specialty and department stores nationwide. Monsac’s annual wholesale volume is estimated to hover around $10 million.
“Monsac is a fast-growing company that has been highly successful in a short time,” said Steven Roberts, co-president of Echo and one of the third generation of the Roberts family that has run the personal and home accessories maker for 77 years. “We are very supportive of the strategies Eugene and Rachel have undertaken. They will continue to build the business and we will assist them in all back-office operations, including financial, distribution and information systems.”
The Monsac acquisition comes at a time of expansion for Echo (see story in the A accessories supplement accompanying this issue), which is using its print heritage as the engine for growth. The firm has grown from its core range of scarves to include ties, gloves, umbrellas, bedding, paper products, wallpaper and decorative fabrics under the Echo name but also produces licensed merchandise for Polo Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley.
Until December 1997, the Gershburgs, who are husband and wife, designed and ran the Americana division of Sharif handbags. Monsac was started in January 1998.
Eugene Gershburg will continue to be president of Monsac, and Rachel Gershburg will retain her title of vice president of marketing and design. The collection will continue to be sold from its showroom and offices at 383 Fifth Avenue in New York, with manufacturing split between Italy and Asia. The company also recently opened a store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.
“The more we found out about the Roberts family and Echo, the more we were convinced,” said Eugene Gershburg. “They have an impeccable reputation in the industry; they are great merchants and have a vision similar to ours. They have great expertise in back-office operations, and their financial support will allow us to open up more high-end stores, expand into global distribution, build our product line and open more of our own stores.”
Gershburg said that with Echo’s aid, Monsac will likely introduce scarf, glove and umbrella lines for a retail debut in fall 2001.
“We are also negotiating for a shoe license,” he added.
Echo will also gain from the deal, according to Roberts, who said the introduction of an Echo handbag line is a goal for 2002.

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