By  on August 2, 2006

NEW YORK — Colleen Kelly, president of Calvin Klein Jeans at Warnaco Inc. for the past four years, has been named group president of the wholesale division at Tommy Hilfiger USA.

She will be responsible for the women's and men's sportswear businesses in the U.S.

Kelly, 46, succeeds Allan Zwerner, who will be leaving as group president of U.S. wholesale. Zwerner has been with the company since November 2003.

"I'm so excited," Kelly, who starts at the end of August, said Tuesday. "It was, to me, an opportunity to work at a company with a lot of brand equity and to be able to be involved with the new management team. It's like a brand-new company with a whole new beginning, and it's a brand that's very important and recognized in the U.S. and Europe."

Funds advised by Apax Partners acquired Hilfiger's company for $1.6 billion in May and took it private. Fred Gehring took over as chief executive officer of the global firm and began a major restructuring. The company scaled back its U.S. management and corporate infrastructure based in New York and New Jersey and eliminated 230 positions. In addition, Hilfiger consolidated management responsibilities in its U.S. wholesale business and eliminated some U.S. back-office functions.

The company's strategy is to elevate its U.S. product, which has had disappointing sales for several years, to the same premium level as its European counterpart.

"Colleen brings years of sales experience and a proven track record for consistently growing businesses," Gehring said in a statement. "Her knowledge and relevant expertise will prove vital to executing the new strategies we have under way for our U.S. wholesale business."

Before working at Calvin Klein, where she headed the women's and men's businesses, Kelly was vice president of men's sales at DKNY. Her successor at Calvin Klein Jeans hasn't been named yet.

Kelly, who will report to Gehring, will be based at Hilfiger's offices at 601 West 26th Street here.

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