April 24, 2009 BY CAPSULESNEWS

southwick.jpgSouthwick, the 80-year-old suit manufacturer that was rescued from collapse in July by its biggest customer, Brooks Bros., is looking to grow its business now that it has a state-of-the-art factory which it recently unveiled, reported Women’s Wear Daily. In addition to having the factory produce more Brooks Bros. garments, Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and chief executive officer of Brooks Bros.’ parent company, Retail Brand Alliance Inc., told the newspaper he intends to grow the Southwick brand, which is sold to 150 specialty stores, to 40 to 45% of Southwick’s total revenues from 20%. Space is earmarked on the factory floor for another production line. The goal is to add jobs over the next five years. “There is a lot that can be made here in the U.S.,” Del Vecchio told the newspaper. “People have given up on the idea, but it is possible to make the economics work and get quality product.” The Southwick overhaul is costing Retail Brand Alliance about $20m, Del Vecchio added, with much of the cost coming from equipment customized for the brand’s signature soft-shoulder construction process.  Southwick previously operated on five floors in a turn-of-the-century factory in nearby Lawrence, Massachusetts. Workers hand-carried piece goods up stairs or waited for clanking elevators to arrive. It took six weeks to make a suit, with machinery powered by a colossal steam boiler tended round the clock by two people.  Now, on a single, brightly lit floor, a suit can be produced in half the time and less than half the space, about 92,000 sqft. versus 250,000 sq. ft. (Stylesight)