Jon Stanfield, president of Stanfield's Ltd., expects up to 15 jobs to be created through acquisition of women's undergarment brands. File photo
TRURO - After more than 150 years of producing primarily mens underwear, Stanfields Ltd., is going unisex.
"It's pretty positive news for us," company president Jon Stanfield said, regarding the recent acquisition of two "well-established" Canadian women's underwear and intimate apparel brands.
Stanfields announced Thursday that it has acquired the Elita and Hanna brands from the Sterling Group in Montreal.
"We're excited about getting a firmer, more solid footing into the women's underwear business and the women's intimate business in Canada because we feel that our company has lots of strengths to add into that channel of distribution," Stanfield told the Truro Daily News.
"And with Elita and Hanna it obviously provides us with a good base in which to build our business on in the women's underwear business in Canada."
Stanfields, which is based in Truro, has been manufacturing underwear since 1856. Although the company has maintained a "very good position" in women's baseline winter underwear, its primary function has been in producing men's undergarments.
"Essentially, the main reason why we wanted to purchase this company is because it gave us a platform to get into the women's underwear business and the women's intimate business," Stanfield said. "We don't really do much now ... we've always struggled when we tried to take our brand and get into more women's underwear business, the panty business, the camisole business."
Acquiring the Elita and Hanna brands, however, will give the company the distribution and marketing relationship with the female undergarment market to provide a solid foothold to ensure a seamless transition upon which to grow its share in the retail sector, he said.
Because of the ongoing challenges in the retail sector, only "time will tell," by how much the company can grow its share in women undergarment business, Stanfield said. "However, what we need to do is find a level of business where we were a significant player in the marketplace. And that's what we've accomplished and how much we grow it will be determined by the amount of fashion we can put into it, maybe a bit of advertising we put behind it and working our relationships with our current accounts."
Stanfield declined to discuss the purchase price of the acquisition.
Sterling Group founder Elliot Berzan will remain with the organization as president of the Elita brand and Stephen Berzan will remain as vice-president of sales.
Both men will remain based in Montreal and will provide marketing services as an independent contractor through the Sterling Group. Elliot Berzan will report directly to Stanfield.
Production of the two brands will remain temporarily in Montreal but Stanfield said the full manufacturing and distribution will be transitioned to Truro over the next six to nine months.
Eventually, the shift in production will lead to the creation of between 10 and 15 local jobs, he said.
As well, the Elita brand of garments will be sold from the new Stanfield company store that is opening on Inglis Place, while the Hanna brand will sold at the factory outlet.
Elita and Hanna brands are currently sold at such retailers as The Bay, Sears, Costco and some specialty ladies boutiques.