NEW YORK — RCS MediaGroup is expected to announce today that it has completed its sale of Joseph Abboud to a unit of a Boston-based equity firm, and that Marty Staff will replace Robert J. Wichser as president and chief executive officer of the Abboud business.
RCS, which was formerly known as Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali SpA, is selling the Abboud business as part of its long exit strategy from the apparel business. In February, the company said it had reached a definitive agreement to sell the Joseph Abboud Group —?composed of JA Apparel Corp., Riverside Manufacturing Corp. and Nashawena Mills Corp. — to JA Holding Inc., which is an entity formed by the equity firm J.W. Childs Associates. The price was $73 million, less debt.
The completion of the deal and the expected announcement that Staff will replace Wichser, has fueled speculation that there could be a resolution to a long-standing dispute between the designer and the company that bears his name. Wichser is being sued for fraud by Joseph Abboud, creative director and chairman emeritus.
Staff, the former president and ceo of Hugo Boss USA and briefly ceo of PH Brand Management, Penthouse’s licensing joint venture, is expected to have a stake in the Abboud business, which is estimated to have sales of more than $125 million. Staff is looking to build on Abboud’s significant existing presence in men’s wear, as well as explore its potential in other categories.
In a statement, Staff said, “I intend to focus on the particular opportunity Joseph Abboud has to successfully compete in men’s better sportswear. Our suit and sport coat business will continue to be our volume base and we will utilize our Riverside manufacturing facility to maintain our competitive advantage in this category. We also intend to pursue company owned and licensed retail and wholesale brand extensions both in America and on a global basis.