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Jim Stark, who runs Rays Apparel, responded to an email I sent him last night and explained the situation. I also asked him to clarify the relationship between Rays Apparel and Rays Group.
Here is Jim in his own words:
"The situation is fairly simple. Rays Apparel, Inc. and The Rays group are the same company. Rays Apparel Inc. is the U.S. licensee for Split Apparel. Rays Apparel, Inc. has made a decision to close the company. The closure will take several months to complete as Rays will continue to ship the Split product through the end of the year and possibly into 2009. I would think that during this period the Split Brand would be sold to another buyer to keep the brand within the market.
"The reason to close the company was simple. Rays Apparel, Inc. has always been a very profitable company. But the economic factors that have effected both retail and wholesale caused Rays to experience losses during 2008. In looking to future, we did not see any improvement in the situation that could reverse the recent patterns of losses. Therefore we decided to close the business rather than risk further losses. Our employees were given 60 days notice yesterday."
"As for the relationship with other boardsport companies in Orange County, there are none. Rays is a stand alone entity and does not have any relationship with 686, KR3W, Supra, or any other brand in our industry. 686 does rent space from the same building Rays is located at, and we all manufacture with the same overseas manufacturer for our sportswear product.
"The decision to eventually close Rays was a very difficult one. We have had a wonderful working relationship with our many long time employees and retailers and we sincerely appreciate each and every one of them.
"I hope this clarifies everything for you and helps you avoid any rumors and bad information which sometimes gets rampant in this industry for no good reason at all.
"This is a sad day for Rays and I would hope that people would respect that."