|Headquarters||Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States|
|Products||Leather apparel and accessories|
|Parent||G-III Apparel Group|
Wilsons Leather is a U.S. leather retailer, selling products such as leather jackets, belts, shoes, handbags, and gloves. At its peak in 2002, the Minneapolis-based retailer had 763 stores in 46 states and Canada.
The company began as two separate leather apparel manufacturer-retailers: Berman Buckskin, founded in 1899 and known for its fringed buckskin shirts and jackets, and Wilsons House of Suede, founded in the late 1940s in California and known for its affordable suede and leather apparel.
Wilsons House of Suede and Leather was acquired by Melville Corporation in 1982. After Melville purchased Bermans from W. R. Grace and Company, it merged the two retailers under the Wilsons Leather name in summer of 1986. Melville added new acquisition Georgetown Leather Design to the division in 1993 and operated Wilsons Leather until 1996, when it sold Wilsons to a management-led investor group.
The newly independent Wilsons Leather filed IPO plans in October 1996 to raise $42 million, but went public in May 1997 with a scaled-back target of $10 million. After launching an online store in 1999, Wilsons expanded into luggage and travel items by acquiring El Portal, Bentley's Luggage and California Luggage Outlet. The 135 travel stores were closed in late 2002 after several quarters of losses.
The company refocused in 2003, reducing their product offerings and closing several dozen underperforming stores. The company scaled back its operations again in 2004, laying off about 1,000 employees and closing nearly 100 stores. At the beginning of 2004, Wilsons operated 598 stores, down from 763 in November 2002. The company continued paring back its number of stores, to 453 by October 2004 and 428 by December 2005. More closings in 2007 brought the total number of Wilsons stores to 411 by October 2007. The closure of 160 stores was announced in February 2008 and by May 2008, the company operated 228 stores in 39 states.
In July 2008, the company sold the Wilsons brand name, online store and 116 outlet stores to G-III Apparel Group. The company formerly known as Wilsons changed its name to PreVu Inc.. PreVu was delisted by NASDAQ on August 4, 2008, then announced it was going out of business on August 14, 2008 and would liquidate its 100 mall stores by October. In 2009, AM Retail Group purchased the company, in partners with GH Bass Co as well. Wilsons currently has 167 stores nationally. Its outlet stores remain open.
- "Wilsons to close travel stores, Q3 loss widens". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. 2002-11-09. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Serres, Chris (2007-05-27). "Wilson's Leather losing its hide". Star Tribune.
- "Grace Posts Profit in Period". New York Times. 1987-04-16. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
The sale of Bermans completed the company's divestment of retail businesses.
- Jones, Dow (1996-05-29). "Company News; Melville sells Wilsons apparel division to management". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
The Melville Corporation said yesterday that it had sold its Wilsons leather apparel division to an investor group led by Wilsons management... The sale was part of Melville's reorganization under which it will split into two companies and sell other businesses to focus on its CVS drugstore chain.
- "Wilsons proceeds with delayed IPO". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. 1997-05-28. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- "Wilsons debuts online store". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. 1999-12-14.
- "Wilsons Leather completes El Portal acquisition". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. 2000-11-01. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- "Wilsons Leather completes acquisition of Bentley's Luggage". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. 2001-04-16. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Tellijohn, Andrew (2003-03-14). "Wilsons plans major changes". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- "Wilsons to lay off 1,020, close 100 stores". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. 2004-01-22. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- "Wilsons Leather to close up to 160 mall stores". Pittsburgh Business Times. 2008-02-18. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Wyant, Carissa (2008-07-09). "Wilsons sells stores, rebrands". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Vomhof, John (2008-08-14). "Wilsons to shutter stores, liquidate". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Official site
- Waller, Joel (1999-11-30). "TMF Interview With Wilsons The Leather Experts Chairman & CEO Joel Waller". The Motley Fool (Interview). Interview with Dave Marino-Nachison.