NEW YORK — Irwin Cohen has joined the investment banking firm of Peter J. Solomon Co. in the new post of senior adviser.
Cohen, 62, recently retired from the international accounting and consulting firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. After heading its retail practice in the U.S. for more than 20 years, he was global head of the consumer products, retail and services practice before he retired.
Peter Solomon, chairman of the firm that bears his name, noted Cohen’s presence “will add to PJSC’s abilities to integrate our independent financial expertise with sound accounting advice as part of our investment banking services. In our specific role as independent financial adviser to the special committees of boards and to boards of directors as a whole, Irwin will add to our insight into potential accounting pitfalls and ambiguities and help our clients fashion their analyses of potential transactions so they can be as prudent and wise as possible.”
PJSC served as a financial adviser to Lands’ End in its acquisition by Sears, Roebuck & Co., to Office Depot in its acquisition of Pinault-Printemps-Redoute SA’s Guilbert unit and to Perry Ellis International in its sale to Supreme International, among other transactions and restructurings. Of recent import, it was consultant to Delia’s and Kasper A.S.L. in strategic reviews which led to their pending acquisitions by Alloy and Jones Apparel Group, respectively.
“Given what’s been going on with mergers and acquisitions and regulatory issues that have arisen recently, I think this is going to be a very nice combination and marriage,” Cohen said. “Taking the volatility in retail and wholesale and on the accounting side, we will be able to provide additional services to businesses we’re already involved with.”
Cohen, who reports to Solomon, believes the fundamentals are in place for an economic recovery, but he doesn’t expect the pressure on retail and apparel firms to abate in the least, increasing the likelihood of greater industry consolidation.
“There’s a big issue in that there’s simply too much retail space in the U.S.,” he said. “The fundamentals are there for an economic recovery, but you’re not going to see the rip-roaring economy we had in the Nineties. If Wal-Mart adds $40 billion a year on the top line, that’s more than nearly all their competitors do. A number of retailers are going to have problems building their top lines and they won’t be able to do it only with new stores.
“The economy may improve, but I think we’re in for a sea change at retail in any event,” Cohen concluded.