Executives of Garfinckel, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads, braced for a take-over fight yesterday, discounting denials by Gamble-Skogmo Inc. of Minneapolis that it is trying to gain control of the Washington corporation.
Sources close to Garfinckel's said the Washington retail chain would be "foolish" not to expect Gamble's to seek more stock and a voice in management of Garfinckel.
In Minneapolis, Gamble Skogmo Chairman Walther H. Davies confirmed that his company has purchased a major block of Garfinckel stock.
Last Friday, after Garfinckel's accused Gambles of seeking to buy at least 20 percent of its shares, a Gamble-Skogmo spokesman denied any interest in the Washington retain chain.
Yesterday Davies insisted, "Gambles does not have under consideration any proposal of merger or any other combination or tender offer."
But he confirmed that Gamble-Skogmo has purchased about 560,000 shares of Garfinckel common stock, about 12 percent of the 4.5 million shares outstanding.
Gamble-Skogmo refused to disclose either from whom it purchased the stock or the price paid for the shares. Officials did not deny reports that the sellers were the former owners of the Joseph R. Harris Co., now a part of Garfinckels and recently renamed Harris and Friends.
When Garfinckel acquired Harris it paid about 480,000 shares of its stock to Joseph R. Harris Jr., members of his family and a handful of other stockholders of the Washington women's wear chain. Donald Harris, former executive vice president of the chain, said yesterday he and other family members could not comment on the sale of stock.
Gambles' refusal to provide details of the stock purchases indicated the Minneapolis chain is playing its cards close to the vest.
Under Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, details of the purchase will have to be made public eventually. Any purchase of more than 5 percent of the stock of a publicly held company, and any sale of stock by a corporate director must be revealed under SEC reported to the public and SEC.
Government regulations also are one reason why Gambles is likely to want to increase its share of Garfinckel's to at least 20 percent. If Gambles owns 20 percent of Garfinckel's, it can integrate that share of Gardinckel's earnings into its financial reports, reporting them as part of its own profits.
The terse statement issues yesterday by Gamble-Skogmo denied any plans to take over Garfinckel, but Garfinckel officials noted the statement did not dispute their claims that Gambles is trying to buy more stock.
Garfinckel stock yesterday moved up $1.37 cents pershare in trading on the New York Stock exchange, closing at $25 5/8.
Trading in Garfinckel shares had been halted Friday by the company's annoncement of the apparent takeover bid.
The Harris stock is believed to be the largest single block of Garfinckel shares.
The Washington retail chain has been regarded as a possible take-over target because of its rapid growth in sales and earnings. For the second quarter of 1978, sales increased from $68 million to $86 million and profits jumped 135 percent, from $385,000 to $903,000.
Retail companies in general have moved into favor with Wall Street analysts in recent months. Well-run retailers can benefit from periods of high inflation, maintaining their profit margins as inflation pushes up prices - and sales - analysts point out.