Monday, March 30, 2015

Oxford to Seek Sale of Ben Sherman

from WWD issue 03/27/2015 By Arnold J. Karr
Oxford Industries Inc. has taken Ben Sherman as far as it thinks it can. The company said late Thursday as it reported strong fourth-quarter results that it had elected to sell the British brand, acquired for $146 million in 2004, after a long struggle to return it to profitability.
While Ben Sherman didn’t achieve an operating profit in either the fourth quarter or full year, the company managed to cut its losses substantially and return to sales growth in both the quarter and year.
“Ben Sherman made great progress in 2014 and left the year with positive momentum, which we believe now positions it as an attractive acquisition target,” said Thomas Chubb 3rd, president and chief executive officer of the Atlanta-based Oxford Industries. “With the aim of achieving long-term value for our shareholders, we have concluded that the sale of Ben Sherman is the right course of action. We have initiated a sale process and expect a timely conclusion.”
With Financo as its financial adviser, the company expects to complete the sale of the brand this year but has neither a specific timetable for doing so nor an assurance of a successful transaction.
While Oxford has seen its acquisitions of Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer pay consistent dividends, Ben Sherman has struggled with losses and declining sales for most of its life as an Oxford division.
With top management directly overseeing operations last year, the brand appeared to turn a corner. Fourth-quarter sales were up 26.6 percent to $25.4 million as full-year revenues grew 15.3 percent to $77.5 million. Operating losses were reduced to $861,000 in the fourth quarter, versus $2.6 million in the same period of 2013, while the full-year loss declined to $10.8 million from $13.1 million.
Analysts speculated that Oxford would be looking to off-load the brand to focus on its larger, profitable Tommy Bahama and Lilly Pulitzer brands. Both experienced strong results in the fourth quarter, when Oxford, after reducing guidance when it reported third-quarter results in January, saw the two brands rally strongly.
In the three months ended Feb. 2, the group’s net income was up 5.5 percent to $15.8 million, or 96 cents a diluted share, from $15 million, or 91 cents, in the 2013 quarter. Adjusted EPS was $1.08, 5 cents above the $1.03 expected, on average, by analysts.
Falling just short of consensus estimates, revenues rose 9.6 percent to $274.5 million from $250.4 million. Promotional pressures contributed to a decline in gross margin to 54.3 percent of sales from 55.1 percent a year ago.
With Ben Sherman in play and other operations performing well, Oxford’s shares, after advancing 3.4 percent to $59.51 in regular trading hours, picked up 10.1 percent to $65.61 in after-hours trading following the release of results.
Helped by an 8 percent increase in comparable-store sales, quarterly revenues at Tommy Bahama rose 10.9 percent to $186 million as operating income accelerated 12 percent to $29.1 million. Lilly Pulitzer’s 9 percent boost in comps helped lift sales 15.8 percent to $34.8 million while operating income expanded 47 percent to $2.1 million.
The Lanier tailored clothing division saw sales backtrack 9.5 percent to $27 million, but operating income rose 7.9 percent to $3.2 million.
Oxford’s full-year profits were up 1 percent to $45.8 million, or $2.79 a diluted share, while revenues hit $997.8 million, 8.8 percent above their 2013 level.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Club Legend Steve Strange Dies, Aged 55.

Steve Strange, lead singer of 1980s pop band Visage, has died aged 55 following a heart attack, his record label says. The Welsh New Romantic icon - best known for the hit Fade To Grey - died in hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Ex-Visage bandmates Midge Ure and Rusty Egan said they were "devastated" to hear of his "untimely passing", adding: "Steve was a major face of the 80s."

Boy George tweeted he was "heartbroken" about the death of Strange, saying he was "such a big part of my life".

Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon tweeted that Strange was "the leading edge of New Romantic. God Bless him".

Fellow 1980s pop star Billy Idol tweeted: "Very sad to hear of my friend Steve Strange passing, RIP mate."

Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp dedicated the band's performance in Italy to "a maverick to the end", while his brother and the band's bassist, Martin Kemp, tweeted: "RIP Steve Strange goodbye my dear friend. I will miss you!"

Friday, February 6, 2015

Classic Pop defined the sound of the 80s

Classic Pop is the new bi-monthly magazine that finally gives pop music the recognition it deserves. After decades of rock magazines wallowing in the 60s and 70s, Classic Pop truly celebrates the explosion of creativity and diversity that shook up music in the late 70s, defined the sound of the 80s, and continues to influence today. Whether it’s New Wave, synth-pop, indie, ska or the New Romantics, Classic Pop  gives the artists and music in-depth coverage in a glossy, high-quality magazine.

Classic Pop is brought to you by Anthem Publishing, the publishers of Guitar & Bass, Music Tech and Vintage Rock magazines.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shop657 showcases Academy of Art alumni designers

By Tony Bravo, Thursday, January 22, 2015

The sign may say Marty’s Liquor & Gourmet, but once you enter Academy of Art University’s new Shop657, any thoughts of six-packs and Slim Jims will be banished. After the success of the academy’s spring pop-up store, the school of fashion merchandising has created its first permanent retail space in Union Square, curated and operated by students from the program.
“From product development to merchandising, design of the space to sales, (the store) is entirely student-driven,” says Keanan Duffty, senior director of the fashion merchandising school, who chatted about the boutique and its mission. “It’s really a beginning-to-end experience for the students as they follow the life of a product.”
Shop657 had a limited opening in December for the 2014 holiday season, and after closing for winter break, it reopens with the start of the school’s spring semester on Monday. For Duffty, it is the perfect marriage of concept and space. The prewar architectural flourishes, revealed while preparing the boutique, were freshened with a coat of gallery-white paint, making the walls perfect for projecting student artwork, look-book images and footage from the school’s annual New York Fashion Week runway show at Lincoln Center.
“It’s been cleaned up for retail, but it’s still got a little of that grit at the edges,” Duffty says of the way the building’s character was utilized in the shop’s design. It’s a site-specific concept that recalls New York boutiques like John Varvatos’ use of the former CBGB space or Todd Snyder’s City Gym.
“The location is perfect, between proximity to school and shoppers,” Duffty says. “There aren’t other stores really like this in Union Square. I think we’ll attract a different kind of person to the area. It has great destination potential.”
The shop features products by Academy of Art University alumni brands (naturally), including womenswear by Rinat Brodach, jewelry by Golden Pony Workshop, women’s shoes by Konstantina Tzovoulou, menswear by Voidthebrand, cheeky sweaters with #selfie motifs by Sha Suganda’s Chibi and academy sweatshirts customized by textile students.
Duffty points out a series of pillows emblazoned with neon graffitied classical portraits by pseudo-punk home line Apartment 415, Joanne Lu’s minimalist cashmere coats for Mute and Tommy Pham’s “Homiès” sweatshirts (playing on the classic Hermès logo) for San Francycle as popular standouts over the holiday season. He notes that designers and merchandise will frequently change, giving the students more opportunity to experience real-world buying and curating for retail. 
“Many of the alumni designers in Shop657 are already carried in other stores and have their own followings,” Duffty says. “There’s a few we might not be able to keep here long because of the demand and their success away from the academy. If designers do cycle out of here for that reason, it’s a great dilemma to have.”

Tony Bravo is a San Francisco freelance writer. E-mail: Twitter: @tonybravosf