The final pieces of the HMX puzzle are about to fall into place.
W Diamond Group Corp. and Peerless Clothing International are expected to finalize a deal later this week for Peerless, one of the country’s largest tailored clothing manufacturers, to take over the distribution, marketing and sales for the Hart Schaffner Marx label. Under the terms of this deal, Doug Williams, former chief executive officer of HMX and now head of W Diamond, will continue to hold the license for Hart Schaffner Marx and retain ownership of its factory in Chicago.
In addition, Exclusively Misook, an upscale women’s knitwear label, is expected to be sold by the end of the week.
The news comes just days after Samuelsohn revealed it was purchasing the factory and acquiring the long-term license for Hickey Freeman. Both Hart Schaffer Marx and Hickey Freeman were key brands within the HMX Group, whose intellectual property was sold to brand manager Authentic Brands Group at the end of last year. Over the past few months, Authentic Brands has dismantled HMX’s brands, selling Jag Jeans and Christopher Blue to Western Glove Works and Bobby Jones to Waitt Co.
“From the beginning,” Williams said, “the idea was that to strengthen the balance sheet of W Diamond, we would go through a list of divestitures if it made economic sense.”
He said once the joint venture with Peerless is completed, it will leave W Diamond with oversight of HSM tailored clothing as well as HSM and Hickey Freeman sportswear.
“Ronny and I go back to my Polo days,” Williams said of Peerless president Ronny Wurtzburger. “He runs the best front end of the business out there. So we made a joint venture deal where he would take care of the front end — the marketing and the selling — and I will buy the fabric, manufacture the goods, take the orders, collect the money and give him a piece of the action.”
He said he will also speak to other companies in search of production capacity to use the HSM factory in Chicago. “We expect to add 100,000 suits and sport coats to that factory in the next 12 months,” he said.
Under Peerless’ tutelage, HSM is also expected to expand its private-label and custom offerings as well, sources said.
Williams said that when Authentic Brands bought HMX, the company made a commitment to the employees at the company’s factories in Rochester (Hickey Freeman) and Chicago (HSM) that jobs would not be shed. “We’re proud to be able to do that and ensure a long-term future for those workers.”
Williams said when the Peerless deal is completed, he will work closely with Wurtzburger on that initiative and will also work with the heirs of Bobby Jones to expand that brand. Williams is on the board of Jones Global Sports, the affiliate set up to operate the Bobby Jones brand.
He said Authentic Brands is expected to become global licensing partners with the Jones family and will be introducing new product categories as well as entry into international markets.