The suit business: Material differences

Or wait 80 years and buy it online

CUFF-TO-CUFF combat has broken out in the buttoned-down business of selling suits to American men. Jos. A. Bank started the needle match in October, offering $2.3 billion for its bigger rival, Men’s Wearhouse. When that failed to measure up, Men’s Wearhouse offered to buy Jos. A. Bank, first for $1.5 billion, then for $1.6 billion. Which can tailor a deal?There is little growth in the suit market so both firms are under pressure to trim costs and either lead the consolidation of their industry or return money to investors. Men’s Wearhouse has announced plans to run two candidates for election to the board of Jos. A. Bank, which in turn has boosted its “poison pill” anti-takeover defences and, it was reported on February 2nd, is now exploring buying Eddie Bauer, a seller of men’s casual clothes, in part to make itself a tougher target. The company’s new focus on delivering short-term returns seems to have triggered the firing last June of George Zimmer, Men’s Wearhouse’s founder and front man, who featured in many adverts promising, “You’re gonna like the way you look, I guarantee it.”Both firms…

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