Jos. A. Bank to expand, issue own credit cards

October 01, 1991|By Michael Pollick

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, the Carroll County-based clothing company, will begin issuing its own credit cards in November.

The company, which operates 40 retail stores, also said that it is moving three stores and opening a new one in Florida.

Jos. Bank will offer the new credit card to 385,000 regular customers who have been pre-approved for credit. The strategy is expected to boost the company's overall revenues by increasing the buying power of its customers, said Timothy F. Finley, chairman and chief executive officer.

In an arrangement typical for so-called "third-party" credit cards, Jos. Bank will not run its own credit department but will turn over its credit-card receivables to one of the large players in this field, General Electric Credit.

While the clothier, which is privately owned, does not announce its revenues or profits, Mr. Finley said that he expects 1991 revenues to be in the neighborhood of $140 million.

Jos. Bank, which has experienced its greatest growth in the Southern states in which it operates -- particularly in the Atlanta area -- is entering the Florida market for the first time by opening a store in a northern suburb of Orlando.

The company also is moving and upgrading stores in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Louisville, Ky., Mr. Finley said. The new site for the Philadelphia store will give it ground-level exposure in downtown Philadelphia for the first time. "We were in the basement of the Fidelity Building before," Mr. Finley said. "I was never able to find it."

In Louisville, the company is moving from downtown to a suburban site that will allow it to stay open seven days and evenings a week. In St. Louis, the company is moving to a free-standing store from a mall that suffered flood damage and was closed.

The Jos. Bank company faced substantial liquidity problems in recent years as it struggled to pay off debt from its 1986 leveraged buyout. Earlier this year, the company convinced bondholders to accept stock in exchange for $50 million in bonds.

The company also cut costs by moving its headquarters staff from Owings Mills to Hampstead in Carroll County this summer.

In another move to upgrade, the company is adding a new computer system at all of its stores, Mr. Finley said.

The computers will allow sales personnel to serve customers more quickly by passing a "wand" over a bar code on the item being sold.

The company also will use the computer system to organize information on customers' preferences. "We do it almost manually now," Mr. Finley said.

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