The Warnaco Group's chief has hailed the global awareness of its Calvin Klein businesses - billed as the company's driving force for growth.

Speaking at The World Retail Congress in Barcelona today (11 April), Warnaco president and CEO Joe Gromek said the company's strategy was "all about Calvin Klein", with the brand representing two thirds of its growth.
"The Calvin Klein strategy is pretty simple, we will expand product number one, geography number two and own retail number three," he said.

"Calvin is a phenomenal brand, global awareness is typically in the high nineties."

Its Calvin Klein operations grew at 25% last year and Warnaco has put aside a US$250m marketing budget for the unit during 2008.

"We really get the umbrella effect of that marketing," said Gromek

He said that half of the company's business is already done outside the US, and that 18% of revenues were direct to consumers through retail operations.

Warnaco opened a store for Calvin Klein Underwear in India 6-8 weeks ago, Gromek said, adding that exposure in emerging markets had preceded the brand.

"Even without doing any business in that country, the brand awareness is very high."

Warnaco has also slated ten stores for Canada during the coming year, he added.

The company, which employs 5,000 people in 110 countries, owns and licenses a portfolio of brands including Calvin Klein, Speedo, Chaps, Warner's and Olga.

It owns Calvin Klein Underwear and has a long-term license for Calvin Klein Jeans, having secured a $38.5m global expansion for the brand last December - a deal that also saw it hand back the luxury Calvin Klein Collection to Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation.

Under the agreement, Warnaco also won rights to operate Calvin Klein Jeans accessories stores in Europe, Asia and Latin America, as well as stores for ck Calvin Klein accessories in Europe and Latin America.

It also got e-commerce rights for the jeans in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and e-commerce rights for accessories Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Owned trademarks generated approximately 45% of the Warnaco's revenues during fiscal 2007, while brand names it licenses generated approximately 55% of its revenues.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.