Blog: Leonie BarrieBattle of the brands

Leonie Barrie | 22 March 2006

Shares in clothing and accessories maker Jones Apparel soared after the company issued a brief statement confirming rumours that it could soon be put up for sale. Suggestions are that the company, whose brands include Jones New York, Evan-Picone, Gloria Vanderbilt, Anne Klein and Bandolino, hopes to appeal to private equity players who seem to have been on a bit of a spending spree recently, snapping up names such as Tommy Hilfiger and Neiman Marcus. But Jones denies that it wants to offload any of its divisions, such as the disappointing Nine West footwear chain – although that option is obviously one that might appeal to a new owner.

Like many of its apparel rivals, Jones has been the recent victim of increasing retail consolidation (particularly the merger of Federated and May) which, in turn, means the apparel supplier now has less power in negotiations. And even though it has been expanding its own retail stores in an attempt to give it more control over its distribution, it is still deeply reliant on – for which read vulnerable to – the whims of its retail partners. All of which ties in rather well with a new feature on just-style that suggests brands, the very backbone of Jones Apparel’s business, are becoming increasingly irrelevant in much of today’s clothing industry. Perhaps the company is evaluating its options while it still can. 

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