Clothing maker Hampshire Group is offloading its women's brands, with the Designers businesses being sold to LF USA, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based sourcing giant Li & Fung Limited, and the Item Eyes lines going to KBL Group International Ltd.

The sale is part of a shift in the company's strategy to focus on its men's operations as retailers increasingly focus on their own private label and exclusive brands.

Under the deal, LF USA will take over brands such as Designers Originals, Mercer Street Studio and Hampshire Studio, while knit and sweater supplier KBL will acquire the Requirements and RQT lines.

"This marks an important new chapter in Hampshire's evolution," said Heath Golden, Hampshire Group CEO.

"This is the appropriate time to more sharply focus our energy and resources on other opportunities. By strengthening an already strong balance sheet, these transactions provide us with a solid base from which to grow and continue on our pathway to profitability."

Over the past year Hampshire has been building its men's business, including the acquisition of men's specialty retailer and wholesale provider Scott James.

It also named men's wear industry veteran Eric Prengel as president of the division overseeing its owned and licensed men's wear brands including Scott James, Geoffrey Beene, Dockers and JOE Joseph Abboud.

This growth has come amid falling women's wear sales and lower selling prices, which contributed to a full-year losses widening to $9.69m, the clothing maker said in March.

For Li & Fung, acquisitions are key to its plans of more than doubling its core operating profit from $725m to $1.5bn by 2013.

Onshore businesses - Li & Fung provides services such as importing, design etc for retail clients such as Target and Kohl's - are an important and growing part of the business, particularly as it is more profitable than the core trading activity.

Earlier this year LF USA bought the Oxford Apparel business US$121.7m, lining this up as a core addition to its US onshore men's wear platform. And in the last 12 months the Hong kong firm's acquisition roster has included US shoemaker Jimlar along with another seven deals.