New Liz Claiborne CEO Brings Brand Skills

Apparel giant Liz Claiborne's new CEO may come from the pharmaceutical industry, but it's the Johnson & Johnson executive's marketing expertise and success reviving moribund consumer brands that got him the job.

William McComb was tapped on Monday to replace retiring Liz Claiborne CEO Paul Charron, who will remain chairman through the end of the year. The appointment takes effect Nov. 6. During his 10-year tenure, Charron turned the $4.8 billion Liz Claiborne into a multi-brand, multichannel apparel giant--targeting different audiences and price points with brands such as Ellen Tracy, Juicy Couture and Lucky.

McComb, a 14-year veteran at J&J, most recently was a company group chairman. He has overseen some of J&J's largest consumer products business and brands, including Tylenol, Motrin, and Clean & Clear. On a conference call with analysts, Charron praised McComb's management capabilities and success at reviving such mature products as St. Joseph's aspirin and Tylenol.



McComb "has consistently shown his ability to effectively manage and grow a portfolio of consumer brands," said Charron, who also came to Liz Claiborne as an industry outsider, in his case from Procter & Gamble. "He's quick to identify new opportunities; his marketing expertise is deep and he understands the dynamics of the consumer."

"With more than 40 brands in its portfolio, Liz Claiborne needs an executive with significant brand-management experience," said J.P. Morgan analyst Robert Samuels.

Liz Claiborne has been working in recent years to broaden its portfolio and lessen its dependence on department stores, which as a sector continues to consolidate. In July, the company reported that its second-quarter profit fell 27 percent, attributed to weaker wholesale sales and higher costs.

Also on Monday, Liz Claiborne said that Kay Koplovitz has been named non-executive chairman of the board, effective Jan. 1. In this position, she will manage the business of the board and provide support and advice to the chief executive. Koplovitz, a principal of media investment firm Koplovitz & Co., is also the founder of cable television company USA Networks.

Next story loading loading..