Men’s Wearhouse acquires Joseph Abboud

by Harry Sheff

Joseph AbboudFREMONT, Calif.—The Men’s Wearhouse announced this morning that it has signed an agreement to buy JA Holding Inc., the parent company of J.A. Apparel and the Joseph Abboud brand, for $97.5 million in cash. The majority owner of the company is J.W. Childs Associates, L.P.

The sale includes Joseph Abboud, JOE Joseph Abboud, and the boys and home brands. It also includes the tailored clothing factory the company owns. It also brings Joseph Abboud the designer and Joseph Abboud the brand back into the same house for the first time in nearly a decade. The brands, which have been carried by retailers as diverse as JCPenney and Nordstrom, will become exclusive to Men’s Wearhouse as Joseph Abboud exits the wholesale business.

“We are thrilled to reunite Joseph with his iconic brand at Men’s Wearhouse,” commented Men’s Wearhouse CEO Doug Ewert. “This transaction accelerates our strategy of offering exclusive brands with broad appeal at attractive prices. Current and future customers will benefit from authentic American designer clothing, manufactured in the USA, at unparalleled value.”

Joseph AbboudDesigner Joseph Abboud added, “Becoming a part of Men’s Wearhouse with its powerful U.S. retail presence and talented management team, I believe the Joseph Abboud brand will not only thrive but will also reach new heights by offering amazing style and quality at an incredible value. I am very proud of this modern American brand that I launched in 1987 and I am excited to continue the evolution of the Joseph Abboud design aesthetic for our existing customers while also attracting a new consumer who will experience the level of quality and exceptional service that Men’s Wearhouse offers.”

Tony Sapienza, CEO of J.A. Apparel, said, “We are proud of the progress that we have made during our nine-year partnership with J.W. Childs in building Joseph Abboud into a modern, sophisticated menswear and lifestyle brand. We look forward to continued growth in the brand at Men’s Wearhouse.”

Designer Joseph Abboud launched his brand in 1987 after working as a designer for Polo. He sold the rights to his name in 2000 for $65.5 million but stayed on with the company until creative differences prompted him to leave. When J.W. Childs bought the company in 2004, he returned but left again, citing creative conflicts once more. J.A. Apparel took legal action against him for non-compete issues in 2007 when he started a new brand, Jaz (now a Men’s Wearhouse brand). J.A. Apparel won the case in 2008 with the judge ruling that the designer could not publicly use his own name in connection with his Jaz brand.

With the Joseph Abboud brand becoming exclusive to Men’s Wearhouse, it’s becoming increasingly likely that Joseph Abboud the designer will be the new public face of Men’s Wearhouse, replacing ousted founder George Zimmer. Market sources say that as JA Apparel exits the wholesale business, much of its staff will be let go, including sales reps and designer Bernardo Rojo, who has been creative director for the Joseph Abboud brand since 2010. CEO Tony Sapienza, who became CEO in 2010 upon the exit of Marty Staff, will probably return to his previous position as head of production.