Corliss, a principal at the consulting firm Corliss Moore & Associates, has extensive retail and apparel experience, particularly in the athletic and sporting goods market. He was most recently the CEO and owner of the retail chain The Athlete’s Foot. He sold the business to NexCen Brands in 2006. Prior to that he owned a company called Infinity Sports, which eventually sold the Bike Athletic brand to Russell Athletic. He was the owner and CEO of the Herman’s Sporting Goods chain before that, presiding over the company’s turnaround and sale.
“I took the company off the market about a month ago and did not entertain any other offers after the Hampshire Group offer, which was back in November 2010,” Talbott explained on Monday. “I have decided to partner with Robert J. Corliss and his family, and I have made Robert president and CEO of RTI and I will remain the chairman. Our partnership starts today.”
Added Corliss, “We’re at a place right now where Robb’s view of the world and my view are very similar. I do think there’s an inextricable link between the positioning of the Robert Talbott brand with wine and the brand with better apparel. There’s a lot of blue sky in front of us.”
Asked why he took the company off the market, Talbott said, “The offers were all a little bit different, but I kept the brand number one in my thoughts. It’s very important to me to protect the brand, number one, and then it was hard to guarantee what will happen to your employees once you sell a company, and thereafter the customers, the product and the vision. It was very important to me to protect the 60 years of legacy, our DNA, our hundreds of customers and of course our employees. I decided to bring on a partner so we can guarantee what happens to the brand. Remember our winery brand is a shared brand, and I wanted to protect both companies. This was the best way to do that.”