By  on December 13, 2010

Margaret Spaniolo is jumping ship. The longtime chief men’s merchant for Bergdorf Goodman is leaving the store to become president and chief operating officer of Thom Browne Inc., effective Jan. 3.

Browne will continue as chairman and chief executive officer, as well as the company’s chief creative officer.

At Thom Browne, Spaniolo will work with Browne on the operational aspects of the company and aim to further expand its reach in the U.S. and internationally. She will report to Browne, and Yasuhiro Ishikawa, founding president and ceo of Cross Company in Tokyo, which owns a majority of the men’s wear company.

“Margaret’s discerning eye has made an invaluable contribution to the success of our men’s business. We wish her all the best in her new venture and, while we will truly miss her, we look forward to our continued collaboration,” said Jim Gold, president of specialty retailing for the Neiman Marcus Group, which owns Bergdorf. The company expects to replace Spaniolo and stressed that the merchandising organizations of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman will remain separate. Ginny Hershey-Lambert serves as executive vice president of merchandising for Bergdorf’s and Spaniolo’s successor will report to her.

Spaniolo, whose last day at Bergdorf’s will be Friday, said she’s known Browne from when he first came onto the scene and was “pretty much responsible, with Bergdorf’s, of launching his brand. But he needs a business partner to bring him to the next level.”

Browne said: “Margaret’s intimate experience in the retail world will make it possible for my business to grow and develop in ways that I couldn’t achieve just on my own. Also, through the years she has witnessed and observed many businesses succeed and fail and that in itself is invaluable.”

Browne, known for shrunken suits and avant-garde runway shows, generates sales of about $6.3 million worldwide, but had experienced financial difficulties like many independent designer brands. Last December, the designer sold a majority stake in the business to Japan’s Cross Company. Cross first purchased a 20 percent interest in Browne’s firm last summer but upped its interest to 67 percent at the end of the year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Browne had been searching for an investor for nearly two years, with the designer insisting on maintaining ownership of his company and his name.

Under the terms of the deal, Browne said at the time, he retained 100 percent control of the creative aspects of the business, as well as the merchandising and marketing. In addition to his eponymous designer line, Browne designs the Black Fleece collection for Brooks Brothers. He has also collaborated with Harry Winston and Moncler.

Spaniolo has been with Bergdorf’s for 18 years, the last 10 as general merchandise manager of the company’s men’s store. She is credited with playing a pivotal role in the evolution of the Bergdorf Goodman Men’s store by identifying emerging brands with growth potential. She began her career in women’s sportswear and four years ago added home, jewelry and beauty to her duties as gmm of men’s. Before joining Bergdorf’s, she was with Saks Fifth Avenue.

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