Almond’s joy

Michael Anthony Jewelers Inc., Mt. Vernon, N.Y., entered into a distribution agreement with Almond Jewelry International, Westbury, N.Y., to market and distribute Almond’s gold jewelry.

”This partnership affords us [Michael Anthony] more volume, provides Almonds clients with the supply support they need, and customers the ability to place a single order for jewelry,” says Michael Paolercio, chief executive officer of Michael Anthony.

Almond’s $15 million in annual sales will combine with Michael Anthony’s $100 million to free up Almond resources. Michael Anthony will inherit some important mass merchant clients, including Wal-Mart. Almond recently eliminated 40 jobs in the packing, marketing, and distribution areas because the Michael Anthony arrangement provides them with ample support.

But Michael Anthony also reacted to a recent economic squeeze as weak holiday orders forced the gold jewelry supplier to cut 100 U.S. jobs. To further save labor costs, the company is expanding its Dominican Republic facility for assembly of finished products. All component manufacturing, including stamping and chain assembly, will remain in Mt. Vernon.

Maurice Mandelbaum, president of Almond, suggests this strategic partnership is just what both companies need for improved strength in the market. Almond has a modest workforce of 20 salesmen in the States, but its overseas employees number 1,000, located in offices in Thailand and Israel.

Mandelbaum notes this year marks the first in 27 years that Almond won’t exhibit its own wares at the major U.S. jewelry shows. ”But we’ll still exhibit in Vicenza, Italy, and in Basel, Switzerland,” he says. This newly acquired ”free time” enables Almond to focus on what it does best-”manufacture high-quality items at saleable weights in a mass production mode,” says Mandelbaum.