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Year in Review: Uncertainty remains in wake of Men's Wearhouse acquisition of Hampstead's Jos. A. Bank

Some job losses at Hampstead-based Jos. A. Bank Clothiers could be coming in the next year as a result of the company being purchased by Men's Wearhouse in 2014.

Men's Wearhouse has said the $1.8 billion purchase of Bank, one of Carroll's five largest employers, is expected to result in $100 million to $150 million of savings by the end of the 2016 fiscal year through various efficiencies and elimination of overlapping corporate functions, which could mean layoffs across both brands, although Men's Wearhouse has not publicly discussed those possibilities.

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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.

Bank employs 778 people in the county, according to the latest numbers on the Carroll County Department of Economic Development's website.

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Bank, founded in Baltimore in 1905, bought its 250,000-square-foot Hampstead headquarters in 1986 from tool manufacturer Black & Decker, previously the main employer in the town.

The agreement between the men's clothing companies was announced in March after months of back-and-forth that began with Bank making an unsolicited bid of $2.8 billion in October 2013 to acquire Men's Wearhouse.

In a deal that was finalized in June, Houston-based Men's Wearhouse ultimately paid $65 per share for Bank. It does plan to keep the Jos. A. Bank brand but already announced in a September conference call it would be ridding Bank's "unsustainable" buy one, get two or three suits free promotions it had been running for years.

A former Macy's and I. Magnin executive was announced in the fall as the new brand president of Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, part of its integration into the Men's Wearhouse brand. Paul Fitzpatrick, most recently served as president and chief operating officer of ESP Group Ltd., a designer of underwear, sleepwear and loungewear. Former Bank executive Jim Thorne was made executive vice president of direct sourcing, overseeing Men's Wearhouse's overall product development, manufacturing and sourcing.

Steven Isberg, a finance professor at the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, said after the merger was announced that the combined company was more likely to rely on Men's Wearhouse's system of supplying, distributing and selling apparel than on that of Bank's. The companies' plan to leverage Men's Wearhouse's "vertical direct sourcing model," in the March announcement of the deal implied cuts would be likelier in the Bank's system, but it's unclear exactly where the cuts will be made, Isberg said.

Hampstead and county officials remained confident, but admittedly concerned, in the wake of the deal.

Mayor Chris Nevin said Hampstead found a way to grow even when 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 workforce, with strong education and work ethic, and we're a business-friendly community," he said.

The hope is that Hampstead won't lose jobs as a result of the merger, said then-county commissioner and former Hampstead Mayor Haven Shoemaker.

"We just have to keep our fingers crossed," said Shoemaker, who was elected to the House of Delegates in November and who has family members employed by Bank.

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