June 25, 2007, 12:00 AM

Brand plan is behind Liz Claiborne’s organization, management restructure

Liz Claiborne is reorganizing into two divisions, direct brands and partnered brands, reflecting a new branding strategy. The five group president positions under the old structure will be eliminated.

Apparel and accessories manufacturer and retailer Liz Claiborne Inc. is reorganizing into two divisions-direct retail brands and partnered wholesale brands-reflecting its plan to refocus on branding. The five group president positions under the old structure will be eliminated.

“This new structure reflects the distinct needs of our direct brands versus partnered brands, which have different growth prospects, capital requirements and cultural profiles,” says Trudy Sullivan, president of Liz Claiborne. “Our retail-based direct brands division will benefit from enhanced retail infrastructure and capabilities, while our wholesale-based partnered brands division will be better-positioned to meet the needs of specific customers. While there are clearly overlapping channel dynamics, we want to manage these businesses as two distinct divisions and report on their performance with a set of metrics that is more appropriate to these different business models.”

Liz Claiborne, No. 305 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has set “the framework of the organizational structure that will support the strategic initiatives we plan to unveil at our July 11th Investor Day,” says CEO William L. McComb.

Jill Granoff, formerly group president, direct-to-consumer, will be executive vice president, direct brands, and will be responsible for global oversight of Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand and Sigrid Olsen, as well as the company’s e-commerce and outlet operations. She will report to McComb. The Kate Spade business’ new leader was to be named soon and also will report to McComb.

These vertically integrated, brand-centric structures are expected to provide clearer focus and prioritization of the retail-based brands and better enable it to capitalize on the growth opportunities for core lifestyle brands, such as Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand and Mexx, the company says.

Sullivan will head up the partnered brands division, which encompasses global oversight of five business groups: Liz Claiborne/Claiborne, Monet and the moderate department store brands; C&C; California, Dana Buchman, Ellen Tracy, Enyce, Laundry by Design, Mac & Jac/Kensie, and Prana; J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Sears; DKNY Jeans and DKNY Active; and cosmetics and fragrances. She will continue to report to McComb.

The reorganization under the company’s partnered brands division “signals a new customer-focused approach that aims to foster cooperative, coordinated partnerships with the company’s retail customers,” the company says. Under the new structure, people and resources will be focused on developing product demand supported by effective branding and an enhanced supply chain to deliver improved margins and faster inventory turns, the company says.

The corporate supply chain will continue to report to Mike Scarpa, COO, McComb says. “While there will be dedicated leaders in each division driving strategies appropriate for their respective businesses, we continue to see advantages in leveraging this capability across the total corporation.”

The company also announced that Andrew Warren has been appointed CFO and will report to McComb. Warren has held numerous finance positions at General Electric over the past 18 years. Most recently, he served as senior operations leader, GE audit staff, where he helped lead the divestiture of GE’s plastics division.

Sullivan also will be responsible for international operations, including Mexx Europe and Liz Claiborne Canada; global strategy, planning & research, a new function; and brand development, including oversight of future brands. The CEO of the company’s Mexx operations, Jeff Fardell, will report to Sullivan.

Also reporting to Sullivan will be Lilach Asofsky, vice president, marketing; and Suzanne Norris, vice president, e-commerce, in moderate department store brands, will report to Granoff.

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