The purchase of Hampstead-based Jos. A. Bank Clothiers by Men's Wearhouse will likely mean fewer jobs in Carroll County, where the suit company is the fourth-largest employer.
Local officials said Tuesday that it is too early to know how severe the job loss will be at Bank's headquarters and its three distribution centers in the county.
"We just have to keep our fingers crossed," said County Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, whose District 2 includes Hampstead and whose son and brother work for Bank.
Shoemaker said it will be hard to find a new employer of Bank's magnitude, describing news of the takeover as "disconcerting."
"To hear one of your leading corporate citizens has been bought out by another company, it gives one pause," he said, "but it's way too early to panic at this point."
A Men's Wearhouse presentation in November about a potential merger pointed to a possible $150 million in savings achieved over three years by streamlining operations.
Bank employs about 780 people in Carroll County, said a county spokeswoman, Roberta Windham. The company said last month it has a total of about 6,875 full-time and part-time workers.
"This is the early days, so we have no specific information with regard to that," Windham said about the impact of the deal on county employment. "We will continue to be in contact with Bank and will be contacting Men's Wearhouse to see what role we can play and what assistance" the county can offer.
Officials said they expected job loss, but hoped the Houston retailer would continue to operate some of Bank's Maryland distribution centers. In addition to its Hampstead corporate office, Bank runs two warehouses in the town and one in Eldersburg. Hampstead's distribution centers and tailoring shop employed about 350 people, according to last year's annual report.
In 2013, Men's Wearhouse owned distribution facilities in Texas and Virginia, and leased space in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois and California, among others, according to its annual report.
The combined company is more likely to rely on Men's Wearhouse's system of supplying, distributing and selling apparel than on Bank's, said Steven Isberg, a finance professor at the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business.
In their announcement, the companies said they plan to leverage Men's Wearhouse's "vertical direct sourcing model," implying that cuts would be likelier in Bank's system, but it's unclear exactly where the cuts will be made, Isberg said.
"That says they anticipate Men's Wearhouse model is probably more functional and more efficient and they would rely on that more than the Bank model," Isberg said.
Bank, founded in Baltimore in 1905, bought its 250,000-square-foot headquarters in 1986 from tool manufacturer Black & Decker, previously the main employer in the 6,300-person town. Bank expanded in 2004 and 2011 and, in recent weeks, had talked to the county about additional growth, Shoemaker said.
Mayor Chris Nevin said Hampstead found a way to grow even while Black & Decker cut back, and he is confident the town will continue to prosper. He cited spice company Fuchs Group's decision in January to relocate to the area.
"We've got a strong work force, with strong education and work ethic, and we're a business-friendly community," he said.