Jill Granoff has left her spot as the EVP of direct brands at Liz Claiborne (overseeing the company's golden children: Juicy Couture, Mexx, Kate Spade and Lucky Brand) to become the CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions. At her new gig, which starts May 5, Granoff will be in charge of retail, wholesale and licensing for all domestic and international operations, effectively taking over the responsibilities of brand namesake Kenneth Cole who will continue on as chairman and chief creative officer to manage the brand's positioning, product, design and advertising (maybe he can make it seem less tired and derivative!). Both are pictured, at right, in our fun-with-Photo Shop estimation of what the new deal must look/feel like.
Ok, we get it from an ego perspective, CEO trumps EVP, no question. But it kinda seems like she traded one sick child for another. While Claiborne has its own issues, including that recent $451 million loss, they at least appear to be on the road to recovery. (For more on Claiborne's situation, check out our feature, "Rough Measurements"). Kenneth Cole, on the other hand, seems to be in some seriously bad shape and we don't hear any buzz about them getting better. In fact, we've been hearing that they're on the verge of a turnaround for at least the past two years. And nothing.
In its most recent earnings report (from March 4), Kenneth Cole Productions posted net sales of $119.5 million for the fourth quarter, practically flat against last year. For the full year 2007, sales were $466.4 million, down 5.5% from 2006. Not so bad. Er, until you look at the profits. The company posted a net loss of $3.1 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter, versus a gain of $8 million, or 39 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. When the last cash register chimed in for 2007, the brand posted only $7.1 million in profits, or 35 cents a share, down almost 75% from 2006, when they posted net income of $26.8 million.
If you can't read between the lines, or you don't have your abacus out: that's not good. And why do people leave jobs that seem like they could be promising for ones that will likely be a total mess? Beaucoup d'argent, cherie! Then again, maybe Granoff's been shown a plan we're, and the earnings analysts, aren't privy to. Or maybe she just likes a challenge.
But hey, a little financial thunderstorm won't prevent us from giving you guys the PR love fest, fresh from the release:
"We are extremely excited to have Jill on our team. She has a great track record of building brands, and I look forward to working with her and leveraging her strategic and operational capabilities to improve all aspects of our company," said Kenneth Cole, in a statement. "It is a new era for me, and the company. I am confident that having an executive of Jill's stature and abilities, to partner with me and our strong management team, will allow the company to achieve even greater successes in its next chapter."
And Granoff's air kisses:
"I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with Kenneth and the management team to realize the extraordinary potential of this global lifestyle brand," said Granoff, in a statement. "I am particularly excited to help build upon the strong brand heritage while helping to drive new growth initiatives in the retail and international arenas."
Honey, we think you'd have a better chance of doing that with Juicy Couture than Kenneth Cole, but, hey what do we know? Oh, and there was also this fun little nugget from Liz Claiborne CEO William McComb, that we're reading as a kind of "bitch please" statement:
"We have made a lot of progress towards the execution of our strategy over the last eight months, in particular by placing strong leaders in the multi-functional roles each of these companies requires to successfully expand its business," said McComb, in a statement. "We thank Jill for her valuable contributions to the company during the past two years and we wish her the very best on future endeavors. While we're disappointed to see her leave, we have a deep bench of talent at the management level, and I am confident that this will be a seamless transition."
For some reason, we picture McComb penning this while Tina Turner's "When the Heartache Is Over" booms in the background.