Baltimore entrepreneur wins right to distribute After Six wear

July 07, 1993|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

Charles S. Ezrine, the Baltimore tire merchant turned formal-wear entrepreneur, has finally gotten his wish to distribute After Six formal wear, after the Philadelphia company was sold in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Under an arrangement reached last month, After Six tuxedos are being distributed by Park Avenue Formals Inc., a Baltimore County company headed by Mr. Ezrine.

The capture of the After Six business came nine months after Mr. Ezrine was thwarted in an attempt to buy the business and move its production to a closed clothing factory in Harford County. The move was blocked by a union representing After Six workers who are determined to keep the work in Philadelphia.

"This deal is through," Mr. Ezrine said yesterday. "It's definite. Our salesmen are out selling the line."

Park Avenue began distributing After Six's remaining inventory of tuxedos a few weeks ago, after the assets of the company -- including the After Six name -- were sold to AS Licensing Corp. for $7.1 million.

AS Licensing, a Chicago-based company, agreed to license the name to Park Avenue, Mr. Ezrine said. Mr. Ezrine would not disclose the owner of AS Licensing, saying only that some of its financial backers overlap those of Park Avenue.

The remaining After Six equipment will be sold at auction July 20 by Baltimore-based Michael Fox Auctioneers Inc.

Park Avenue has contracted with J. Schoeneman Inc., an Owings Mills-based menswear manufacturer, to produce the tuxedos and other formal wear. Within a month, Schoeneman is set to begin producing the formal wear, Mr. Ezrine said.

In addition to factories in Pennsylvania and Southern states, Schoeneman operates the former Gleneagles plant in Bel Air. But Mr. Ezrine said he doubted that the Harford County factory would be used, because it is busy producing Christian Dior rainwear.

James J. Stankovic, Schoeneman president and chief executive officer, declined to comment on After Six.

Mr. Ezrine, who owned the Baltimore-based Ezrine Auto Center chain before it was sold to Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. in 1984, became involved in After Six last summer, when he and other investors tried to buy the struggling company.

His plan was to move production to the Gleneagles plant in Bel Air, which was closed at the time. But the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, which represents After Six workers, blocked the sale.

The 90-year-old After Six company filed for bankruptcy in February, after having piled up millions of dollars in debt, primarily from a 1984 leveraged buyout of the company.

AS Licensing's $7.1 million bid for the company's assets was competing against a $5 million bid from Genesco Inc. of Nashville.

Even though Genesco's bid was lower, it had the blessings of many of the company's creditors and the Amalgamated Clothing union, according to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. But the bankruptcy judge said he was obligated to accept the highest bid acceptable by the company management.

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