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Randa Accessories has doubled the space and size of its Como, Italy, neckwear design center and enhanced the digital capabilities attached to the 100,000 designs in its archives.

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Randa, the largest men’s accessories firm based in the U.S., invested 2.5 million euros, or about $3.4 million at current exchange, to expand the 28-year-old center, principally dedicated to neckwear design, to 12,000 square feet from 6,000 square feet and build the size of the staff to 20 from nine. The investment includes both the build-out of the physical plant and expenditures made for technology to accelerate the digitization of an archive of designs dating back to 1910.

The investment is separate from the $25 million Randa spent on its North American facilities to improve processing, production and distribution. Those moves, unveiled in August, included boosting the output and efficiency in its Reno, New Orleans and Toronto operations and the closure of a distribution center in Taunton, Mass., added when it acquired Swank Inc., a rival men’s accessories firm, last year.

Rita Palotti, managing director of Randa International Srl and head of the Como facility, noted that the expansion of the center, along with investments in technology, will solidify Como as the hub of design and trends for Randa’s global operations. “And especially because it houses the worldwide library of designs, and upon completion specifically electronically, it is both a physical and virtual hub,” she said.

John Kammeier, senior vice president of neckwear at Randa, noted, “We are almost 90 percent vertical, so speed-to-market is our forte, but our ability to create customized proprietary fabrics and designs, even matching a warp thread to a shirt color, is what makes Randa unique.” The New York-based company estimates that the center is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 neckwear designs each year. High-resolution designs are sent directly to mills and other factories for production.

With last year’s addition of Swank, sales at privately held Randa last year grew to $625 million distributed among 18,000 points of sale on five continents. The company has about 4,700 employees and last year shipped more than 65 million units, the majority attributable to belts. Its portfolio of owned and licensed brands numbers more than 75.

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