|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2012)|
It was formed in 1966 as a holding company for the purchase of Tip Top Tailors through a partnership between Jimmy Kay, a Toronto-based entrepreneur with business interests in housewares, plastics, and lighting, and the Posluns family, who for three generations had been involved in the Toronto garment industry. From the start the company was diversified, maintaining retail and manufacturing operations.
The company recorded explosive growth during the 1970s and 1980s operating 17 chains with more than 2,700 stores in the United States and Canada at its peak.
The name is derived from an acronym created by the new partnership. When the new investors took over Tip Top Tailors they were met with explanations and finger-pointing as to why the company was in such poor shape. DYLEX stands for Damn Your Lousy EXcuses which was a sign that things were about to change in the management of the company.
In its final years, the company had five business divisions: BiWay (discount basic apparel and general merchandise), Thriftys (denim and other jeanswear and accessories), Tip Top Tailors (mid-priced men's suits and sportwear), and its women's wear group, made up of Fairweather (women's career and casual clothing) Big Steel Man (aka Big Steel and in its final days Steel) and Braemar (women's tailored clothing and accessories). The company operated 638 stores across Canada.
In 1999, Dylex created a new chain offering off-price brand name clothing and accessories named Labels, in an attempt to have a chain competing with the current leader of that category, Winners. This new venture was not successful, and by the end of 2000, the chain was purchased by the TJX Companies Inc (operators of the TJ Maxx and TK Maxx stores in the United States and Europe), and then folded into their Winners/HomeSense chain.
BiWay Stores accounted for 54% of fiscal 2000 revenues; Thriftys, 14%; Fairweather, 12%; Tip Top Tailors, 12%; Braemar, 7%; and Labels, 1%.
In 2000, the company sold its Thriftys, Braemar and National Logistics divisions to American Eagle Outfitters.
The remainder of the group were sold in 2001. The BiWay stores chain was acquired by Hardof Wolf Group, a shell company for the United States-based McCrory Stores, a dollar store chain owned by Meshulam Riklis. The Fairweather chain was purchased by a private Canadian investment consortium. McCrory had announced its intentions to convert all of the BiWay stores into a dollar store chain to be named Dollar Zone, named after their chain of dollar stores in the United States.
These plans did not go through however, and in August 2001, all BiWay stores, save for a few Toronto area locations, were shuttered for good and Hardof Wolf left with all of the employees' money. The courts finally forced Hardof Wolf to pay back some of the money it stole from the employees. This court case set precedent in Ontario bankruptcy case law.
A Forbes article dated October 8, 2001 'Riklis Driving' gives some details about how Riklis drained money from Dylex into other Riklis owned companies.