March 1, 2011, 4:08 PM

Kenneth Cole’s CEO resigns

Jill Granoff has resigned. Chairman Kenneth Cole will serve as interim CEO.

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Jill Granoff has resigned as CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. Chairman and chief creative officer Kenneth Cole will serve as interim CEO and former president Paul Blum will take over Granoff’s seat on the board.

The multichannel retailer, No. 402 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, gave no reason for Granoff’s departure, but says it was a mutual decision.  "I would like to thank Jill for her contributions and dedication to the company," Cole says. "I have a very high regard for her, and appreciate all of her efforts over the last couple of years.”

Prior to her position at Kenneth Cole, Granoff was head of global brands and oversaw e-commerce operations at Liz Claiborne, No. 327 on Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

“Despite a challenging business environment, together we have been able to build a more productive organization that is well positioned for the future,” Granoff says.  “I look forward to exciting opportunities ahead and wish Kenneth and the team continued success."

Kenneth Cole does not disclose web sales figures, but for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, the company reported total sales increased 11.4% to $457.3 million.  In 2010, the retailer closed eight failing stores; so far this year, it has closed seven stores and plans to close two more in the first half of 2011.

“We have closed our underperforming stores, put new leadership in place and, once the near-term impact of our decision to close underperforming stores is behind us, we expect to see a financial benefit that far outweighs these short-term costs," says David Edelman, Kenneth Cole’s chief financial officer.

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