Intimate apparel maker Maidenform Brands has built a business on getting its little somethings into the hands and on the bodies of its customers. The company, established when founders Ida and William Rosenthal invented the cup-style bra in the 1920s, makes bras, panties, sleepwear, and increasingly popular shapewear. Maidenform sells its products worldwide, primarily through US discount chain stores and department stores. The company also sells its well-known brands (such as Maidenform, Flexees, and Lilyette) through about 70 company-owned outlets and its websites. The company's name became iconic through its "I dreamed" Maidenform ads ("I dreamed I stopped traffic in my Maidenform bra").
Maidenform's extensive line of intimate apparel includes underwire, soft-cup, strapless, and minimizing bras; panties; and firm-control and light-control shapewear. It also makes little somethings under license for Donna Karan. The company's products are sold through department stores, including Macy's and Belk, as well as discount chains, such as Kohl's, J. C. Penney, Target, Costco, and Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart and Kohl's generated more than 10% of Maidenform's 2009 sales.
The bra maker's sales have remained relatively the same even during the economic downturn. Sales to department stores and national chain stores brought in some 49% of its 2009 revenue. The company's wholesale sales comprised 88% of its 2009 revenue. Within its wholesale segment, sales of bras brought in the most revenue with 63%, followed by shapewear (31%) and panties (6%).
Maidenform's shapewear products remain big sellers. The company has been able to boost its shapewear sales significantly since 2007. It attributes the rise to sales of its Control It! and Flexees brands, which are peddled through all of its sales channels. Specifically, its Ultimate Instant Slimmer has been a hit. With shapewear being a necessity for more of its customers, Maidenform is looking to create new brands similar to these.
The intimates company has seen increases among its wholesale segment while it worked to shutter underperforming outlet stores on the retail side of its business. Springboarding from a 2008 licensing agreement with Donna Karan, Maidenform in 2009 added noteworthy customers, such as Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, through its deal to produce women's intimate apparel. In its retail sector, the company identified the most profitable retail outlets, favorable leasing arrangements, and optimum store productivity to decide which of its outlets would remain in place while it pared down its retail operations during the downturn in the economy. As a result, Maidenform shuttered about half a dozen of its outlets during 2009.
Maidenform has been concentrating its efforts on marketing, product development, and distribution in recent years. It transitioned from operating its own manufacturing facilities to sourcing globally for its products through third parties. As a result, Maidenform has boosted its sales in five years from about $263 million in 2002 to some $466 million in 2009. Advancing its hands-off approach to manufacturing, Maidenform in fall 2009 entered into a licensing agreement with Komar Co., to make, market, and distribute women's and children's sleepwear under certain Maidenform brands to retailers across North America.
Maidenform also has looked outside the US for additional growth. Its distribution extends to some 60 countries and territories and represented about 8% of its 2009 revenue. While the company primarily serves the UK, Canada, and Mexico, it spent much of 2007 and 2008 expanding into Russia, the Benelux countries, Sweden, Finland, and Germany, as well.
The company moved in 2007 to somewhat smaller digs in its home state of New Jersey. Maidenform relocated its headquarters from an owned office spanning 98,700 sq. ft. in Bayonne to a leased building with some 67,000 sq. ft. located in Iselin, New Jersey. Its lease expires in May 2017. The company also leases a showroom in New York City.
In July 2008 company president Maurice Reznik succeeded Thomas Ward as CEO. Ward, formerly vice chairman of the company, was named chairman, replacing David Kaplan, a senior partner at Ares Management. Reznik also joined the board as a director.
Maidenform emerged from bankruptcy in 1999 with backing from GE Capital and was acquired by Ares Management in 2004. Maidenform went public in 2005. Ares, which owned about 16% of the company, sold its entire stake in 2010. Maidenform purchased about half of Ares former stake as part of its stock repurchase plan. Keeley Asset Management holds an 11% stake in Maidenform.