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Plan For Claiborne: 'Stupid Simple' Or Simply Stupid?

Since arriving at Liz Claiborne eight months ago, new CEO William L. McComb has outlined a radical plan for weaning the company off its reliance on department stores like Macy's by building hundreds--if not eventually thousands--of its own retail stores.

The strategy, McComb says, is "stupid simple": focus on a few promising brands like Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and Lucky Brand, market them heavily, and painstakingly control their images in company-owned retail stores and a handful of department stores. The goal is to be more like Coach and Ralph Lauren and less like a lumbering, unwieldy conglomerate. How McComb executes the plan makes him either a model of foresight and courage or one of shortsightedness and hubris, depending on whom you ask.

The big question, of course, is whether the brands McComb has chosen to invest in will thrive and turn the company around. Does the world need 148 Juicy Couture stores? Can Kate Spade, a brand whose buzz has begun to die down, become the next Coach? If his plan works, it could provide a road map for Liz's foundering rivals.



Read the whole story at The New York Times »

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