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Haywin shifts focus to branded program

Fifty-five years after being incorporated as a textiles jobber, Haywin Textile Products has grown into an international sourcer/producer with a slew of private label programs to its credit. But on the eve of its anniversary, the company is poised now to shift its mission to branded programs to address the rapid shifts in the retail landscape.

The FUBU licensing agreement announced last week is the first of three such deals in the works for 2002, according to president and ceo Gregg Haft. Combined with its current licensed programs — Fruit of the Loom and Simmons Beauty Rest — the new arrangements will transform the company from conducting 80 percent of its business in private label in 2000 to some 70 percent branded business by 2003.

"It's a big shift, but once the decision was made we moved on it quickly," Haft said.

Each of Haywin's new licenses will address a distinct price point level and design position, he said, a decision intended to keep them from competing with each other. "One cannot have a strong branding strategy without having brands with specific points of view," he said, adding that the company's strategy is to develop branded product exclusive to the department store, specialty store, mid-tier, national account and dollar store channels.

Haywin, which is approaching $100 million in sales, Haft said, began gearing up for the repositioning some six months ago. It recently brought on board Charlie Schlang as director of business development for department and specialty stores. It has formed a product development department, hired two product managers and increased the responsibilities of Maureen Granger, naming her vp, merchandising.

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