Paul Guez stepped down as president and chief executive officer of Blue Holdings Inc. to make way for turnaround specialist Glenn Palmer as the jeans and sportswear company seeks to cut expenses and reevaluate brands such as Antik Denim and Taverniti So Jeans amid a softening denim market.

Palmer, 54, was previously ceo and president of New York's Rafaella Apparel Group, owned by Cerberus Capital Management, where he led a $172 million debt financing program. As ceo of New York's Amerex Group Inc., Palmer reorganized the outerwear and apparel manufacturer and launched a $10 million licensed urban business.

His appointment is the third change among Commerce, Calif.-based Blue Holdings' senior executives in seven months. Larry Jacobs replaced Patrick Chow as chief financial officer in December, and Scott Drake became chief operating officer, a new position, in March. Guez, 62, remains chairman.

"I'm not a ceo," Guez said. "I'm more of a businessman, somebody to come up with new ideas [and] to develop brands."

Guez said he wants to develop foreign markets, including Japan and Europe, and expand into new categories such as shoes, bags, eyeglasses, outerwear and children's clothing through licenses.

Palmer, who started at Blue Holdings on Tuesday during the Project trade show in New York, said his initial priorities include increasing the company's department store business, adding products such as knitwear and woven tops and reducing expenses, which surged 63 percent to $17.1 million last year from 2005 as revenue increased 35 percent to $49 million. Blue Holdings posted a net loss of $4 million last year, compared with net income of $7.5 million in 2005.

"One of the things we want to maximize is a strategy in our distribution," said Palmer, who will be based in New York and Southern California.

Jacobs said Blue Holdings anticipates revenue of $40 million to $42 million this year. With Palmer's arrival, Jacobs said Blue Holdings will reevaluate its brands. "I just think, in all our brands, a new eye and [Palmer's] retail background will enable us to get a renewed focus," Jacobs said, rejecting speculation that Blue Holdings will shed brands from its portfolio.

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