She's baaaack -- or at least the classic, lighthearted, pink-and-green print dresses that once defined "preppy" fashion are. Sugartown Worldwide is the firm that makes and distributes one of the best-loved styles of shift dresses ever made: the Lilly Pulitzer. Named for the social butterfly who once designed the iconic fabrics and dresses herself, Lilly Pulitzers (or just "Lillys," to adoring fans) are back in circulation by way of some 70 signature shops in more than 35 states, a catalog, select department stores, and through the company's website. Besides catering to women, the company offers apparel for men, girls, and infants. Apparel maker Oxford Industries owns Sugartown Worldwide.
Looking to extend its reach into women's clothing and expand its portfolio with another lifestyle business, Oxford bought the maker of Lillys in late 2010 in a deal valued at $60 million. Oxford added the Lilly Pulitzer name to its other noteworthy brands: Tommy Bahama in the US and the UK's Ben Sherman. For Sugartown Worldwide, its owners were able to cash in on many years of brand development. Former co-owners Jim Bradbeer and Scott Beaumont had purchased the Lilly Pulitzer Group trademark in 1993. Following the transaction, Beaumont became chief executive of the new parent's Lilly Pulitzer Group. The sellers of Sugartown Worldwide stand to earn an additional $20 million in cash for hitting certain performance targets through 2014, as part of the agreement.
Prior to being purchased by Oxford Industries, Sugartown Worldwide had been making plans to open a handful of Lilly Pulitzer stores (which average 3,500 to 4,000 sq. ft.) per year. A typical Lilly Pulitzer cotton shift dress retails for about $150.