BUSINESS

Gildan sees early buzz from first TV ads with country music star Blake Shelton

05/14/2015 08:01 EDT | Updated 05/14/2016 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - Apparel maker Gildan Activewear says it's getting an early buzz from the first commercials featuring country music star Blake Shelton, one of the coaches on "The Voice."

Gildan CEO Glenn Chamandy says the singer resonates strongly with its target consumer market — women.

He also says there's been very positive social media response to spots with Shelton that first aired last month.

The Montreal-based company's Gildan branded underwear is currently ranked No. 3 in terms of U.S. market share.

Chamandy says he hopes the Gildan branded product will have 10 per cent of the U.S underwear market by the end of 2015, up from 7.3 per cent, helped by increased consumer awareness thanks to Shelton's involvement.

In addition to TV spots, Gildan is using Shelton's image on in-store displays, sponsorships and signage.

"It's really going to be I think a turning point for us this year in terms of the awareness," Chamandy said Thursday during a conference call.

Gildan (TSX:GIL) says its net income slipped about 30 per cent to US$56 million in the first quarter, in part due to higher costs for its manufacturing operations and higher cotton prices.

The maker of T-shirts, socks and other clothing says its sales were up 15.9 per cent from last year to US$636.2 million.

Meanwhile, the company says it is targeting Latin America, including Chile and Colombia, for growth.

Europe has been the focus of Gildan's expansion beyond its base in the Americas but Chamandy says he also expects China will become the company's third-largest market later this year,

"We're planting seeds and not just one market but in all these markets, so it's a focus of continued growth for us," he told analysts.

The company is also expanding its line of sheer hosiery into U.S. retailers like pharmacies and grocery stores, while also introducing sales of its other products to this new distribution channel.

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