By and  on October 15, 2010

Ron Offir, formerly president of e-commerce at Jones Apparel Group Inc., has been promoted to president of Jones Direct Group with responsibility for the company’s retail and e-commerce operations.

The appointment follows the departure of Andrew Cohen, who is leaving his post as chief executive officer of the firm’s retail operations and wholesale footwear and accessories businesses “to pursue personal interests,” the company said.

Rick Paterno, who has been president of wholesale better footwear brands, has been named group president of footwear, assuming Cohen’s previous responsibilities in that area.

Offir and Paterno report to Richard Dickson, who joined Jones as president and ceo of Jones’ branded businesses in February.

Also reporting to Dickson will be Dina Battipaglia, group president of handbags, and Fran Lukas, group president of Jones Jewelry Group.

“This management restructuring gives more dedicated leadership to these specific categories of business and will help The Jones Group continue to develop into a premier portfolio of brands in fashion,” Dickson said.

The wholesale and retail businesses that had previously reported to Cohen accounted for $1.6 billion of Jones’ $3.3 billion total sales last year.

Cohen, 60, could not be reached for comment. He started as president of the firm’s Energie unit in July 2001, adding responsibility for L.E.I. in 2004 and switching to wholesale footwear and accessories in 2006. He began overseeing the company’s retail business a year later.

Retail was the only one of Jones’ major segments to fail to post a profit last year, when its adjusted loss was $41 million. Jones’ store count was cut by 79 to end with 938 locations under a number of banners, including Nine West, Easy Spirit, Bandolino and AK Anne Klein.

In the midst of a cycle of reinvention, the firm will change its name to The Jones Group Inc. at the end of this month. Prior to joining Jones, Dickson had overseen the Barbie brand at Mattel Inc.

Elaine Hughes, president of executive search firm E.A. Hughes & Co., said disruptions in the market were prompting changes throughout the industry.

“Business is not necessarily flourishing,” Hughes said. “[Companies] can’t reinvent their businesses, but they certainly can understand that a change needs to be made.”

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