Liz Claiborne has bought Mexx Group B.V, a privately held fashion apparel and accessories company, for around 300m euros ($264m). The transaction is expected to close by the end of May.

Based in the Netherlands, Mexx Group designs and markets a wide range of merchandise for women, men and children under the Mexx brand name. Mexx products are sold via wholesale and retail formats in more than 40 countries in Europe, the Asia Pacific region, Canada and the Middle East. Mexx had sales of 382m Euros in 2000.

Paul R. Charron, chairman and CEO of Liz Claiborne, said: "The acquisition of Mexx is consistent with our long-term growth strategy. Mexx's international presence and, in particular, its pan-European strengths will provide valuable geographic and brand diversification to our portfolio.

"It has a strong wholesale and retail value chain, and an experienced and committed management team with a corporate culture similar to that of Liz Claiborne. The Mexx brand is well positioned for growth, and we look forward to working with the proven Mexx management team to maximise this potential.

"We expect Mexx's sales to increase in the mid to upper teens on an annualized basis in 2001 over 2000. We also expect this transaction to be accretive to earnings by $.04 - $.06 in 2001."

Rattan Chadha, president and CEO of Mexx, said: "Mexx will be able to leverage Liz Claiborne's outstanding design and sourcing capabilities to create superior value and quality across Mexx's product portfolio. Equally important, in aesthetic terms the Liz Claiborne and Mexx brands complement each other, with Liz Claiborne apparel targeting "boomers" 35+ and Mexx focusing on younger customers."