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NEW YORK — What’s in a name? A lot, according to the apparel manufacturer and distributor formally known as Jacques Moret Inc.

Next month, the 31-year-old company, which did about $300 million in wholesale volume last year, will change its name to the Moret Group. The new name is part of an image makeover, not a legal change, and it comes with a more modern logo — replacing the “Flashdance”-type version with its multicolor, script font — that will appear in mailings to retail clients and in advertisements publicizing the corporate re-branding.

The renamed company owns Jacques Moret, an activewear and contemporary apparel collection; women’s intimates firm SBH Intimates Inc.; Highpoint Designs LLS, which specializes in hosiery and children’s socks; men’s, boys’ and loungewear company H. Best Ltd.; Regent International Corp., which makes women’s and junior sportswear and knitwear, and contemporary resource Alvin Valley Inc.

The diversified company is re-branding itself as the Moret Group to send a unified corporate message to buyers in this age of retail consolidation. As the apparel group expanded its contemporary divisions and retail distribution in the past year, Moret executives realized its clients did not understand the reach of the company, according to Gary Herwitz, executive vice president.

“It’s important for our retail partners to understand the breadth of our organization,” Herwitz said. “Retailers today are looking to do business with fewer, stronger businesses. We have an incredibly sophisticated back office, which is what retailers are looking for, and we want to get the message across in the corporate community that all of our brands have our structure behind them.”

In addition to owning such brands as 2Xist, Scanty, Alvin Valley, Jacques Moret and Jason Maxwell, the firm has the rights for Everlast women’s apparel. It cobrands Norma Kamali Everlast, and has licenses for about 40 brands, including Mudd women’s intimates, Jockey activewear and DKNY men’s underwear, which will be launched in August. It also does a significant private label business. The company is always looking to acquire additional brands that “fit strategically into our core competencies,” Herwitz said.

“As we expanded our capabilities, we kept hearing retailers, licensees, licensors saying to us, ‘I didn’t realize you are the guys who own 2Xist or manufacture Norma Kamali Everlast.’ Or, ‘So you do the better-built basics activewear program at so and so,'” Herwitz said. “What prompted this was people saying, ‘I didn’t realize you own this.’

This story first appeared in the July 26, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“When you consolidate our companies, we fall into one of the top 100 apparel vendors [in volume] and, in several cases, the top 25 apparel vendors of our retail customers,” he added. “That’s important, as it opens more opportunities to meet with their senior management to discuss branding opportunities and explore supply chain and logistics efficiencies. Retailers grade their vendors with intricate report cards ranging from how they route product to lead times, in stock percentages on replenishment programs, etc. We want to be graded as a group, as opposed to five separate report cards, as we invested significantly in our infrastructure to meet the evolving technological initiatives and sophistication of our retail partners.”

To get the message across, the Moret Group will run a trade ad campaign and send out mailings to retailers.

Herwitz wants his company’s diverse brands and licensees to have the same instant brand association with their parent that competitors Liz Claiborne Inc. and Jones Apparel Group offer their divisions.

“When you think Liz Claiborne, you instantly think Juicy and Liz Claiborne. And when you think Jones Apparel Group, you think Jones New York and Nine West,” he said. “That same affiliation is what we are after. We are a large, privately held company, and a lot of people have heard of us and know our brands, but they don’t put it all together as one company.”

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