October 12, 2011, 2:20 PM

Liz Claiborne finds a merchandising home at J.C. Penney

Meanwhile a name change is in the works for Liz Claiborne Inc.

Lead Photo

What’s in a corporate name? Apparently not Liz Claiborne.

This morning as it announced the divestiture of several brands, Liz Claiborne Inc., No. 341 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also said it was considering a new corporate name, although CEO William McComb didn’t provide many details. “We are exploring options for a new corporate name that will better reflect our keen focus on building and growing our three global lifestyle brands – Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand and Kate Spade,” McComb says. “We will share the new name for the corporation at the appropriate time."

Liz Claiborne is mulling over a corporate name change because that name is coming more under the marketing and merchandising umbrella of J.C. Penney Co. (No. 20). Penney is spending $267.5 million to acquire the global rights to Liz Claiborne brand names. The deal also includes branding rights for Monet, a Claiborne jewelry brand. J.C. Penney and Liz Claiborne signed a branding deal in August 2010, but the new deal accelerates the timeline and adds in Monet.

Specific terms of the deal give J.C Penney the worldwide rights and intellectual property for the entire Liz Claiborne brand portfolio, including Liz Claiborne, Claiborne, Liz, Liz & Co., Concepts by Claiborne, LC, Elizabeth, LizGolf, LizSport, Liz Claiborne New York and Lizwear. "As we seek to be part of our customers' everyday lives, ensuring that we offer the brands that are most relevant to them is a crucial component in transforming J.C. Penney into America's favorite store,” says incoming CEO Ron Johnson, who will take over running the company in November. “Liz Claiborne and Monet are classic brands that resonate deeply with consumers. Our ownership of these brands gives us a strong foundation for continued innovation and growth."

With Penney acquiring the rights to its core name, Liz Claiborne going forward will concentrate on its remaining brands, says McComb. In addition to the deal with J.C. Penney, Liz Claiborne is terminating DKNY Jeans and DKNY license agreements with Donna Karan International, and it has completed the sale of the Dana Buchman brand to Kohl's and agreed to sell the Kensie, Kensiegirl and Mac & Jac brands to affiliates of Bluestar Alliance, a New York private equity firm.

"Over the past few years, we have worked diligently to turn this into a more efficient, dynamic, brand-centric, retail-based company, and today marks the culmination of these efforts,” McComb says. “At the close of these transactions, at a time when most economists in the world are now agreeing that major European and the U.S. markets are facing significant risks of another recession, we will be a more appropriately levered, more capital efficient, growth-oriented company.”

Liz Claiborne didn’t say what will now happen to its e-commerce program, which still includes KateSpade.com and JackSpade.com.


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