Who would be one of the leading US apparel makers? Kellwood would. The firm generates most of its sales from women's wear, including the Rebecca Taylor, David Meister, and Sag Harbor lines. It also makes and designs juniors and girls clothes and accessories. Its portfolio of about 20 brands also includes My Michelle, Baby Phat, Phat Farm, Rewind, Vince, and XOXO. The company is a major supplier to department stores, as well as mass retailers, specialty boutiques, and catalogs. Kellwood also operates Vince, Lamb & Flag, and Rebecca Taylor brand outlet stores across the US. Kellwood has been adding contemporary brands, while shedding mainstream brands such as Koret. The company is owned by Sun Capital Partners.
Kellwood was taken private in February 2008 after being bought by an affiliate of equity firm Sun Capital Partners (SCP) for $762 million. It was SCP's second run at the company. (Kellwood had rejected a previous offer made in late 2007.) Soon after going private, Kellwood spun off its kids-centric apparel businesses, Gerber Childrenswear and Hanna Andersson, to an affiliate of SCP for $129 million.
Kellwood is poised for growth after editing its portfolio to about 20 key brands. Its brands span a broad price spectrum and are sold in department stores from Sears (Sag Harbor) to Bergdorf Goodman (Vince, Rebecca Taylor). Under CEO Jill Granoff, who joined the company in 2012, Kellwood is looking to accelerate sales growth and profitability. (Her predecessor exited the less profitable private-label and small-volume businesses, and canceled many of its licensing deals, including agreements with Calvin Klein, and PVH.) With its focus on restoring profitability, Kellwood appears quick to pull the plug on expensive ventures, such as its Lamb & Flag retail stores. Kellwood launched Lamb & Flag in 2011 with plans to open 20 to 30 retail stores in 2013. But less than six months after opening the first Lamb & Flag stores the company says it will close them if it can't find a buyer, citing the expense needed to grow the fledgling brand. Instead, Kellwood is looking to brands with high growth potential across multiple retail channels (like bricks-and-mortar stores and e-commerce) and possible lifestyle extension elements (like accessories). To this end, Kellwood in 2011 acquired Rebecca Taylor, the contemporary sportswear line named for the New Zealand designer, which is distributed in more than 40 countries worldwide. It also bought California-based yoga and fitness apparel maker Zobha. – less