By  on October 5, 2007

Mackey McDonald, who oversaw VF Corp.'s transformation from stodgy and staid category player into lifestyle brand powerhouse, will end his 12-year tenure as chief executive officer on Jan. 1, making way for president and chief operating officer Eric Wiseman to take over.

Wiseman, 51, said in an interview that the company's direction would not shift.

"My perspective is that this is a transition of responsibility, not a change of agenda," Wiseman said. "The executive team here has been working on the growth plan for the past three years and that team is still here."

Wiseman's star has risen steadily and the groundwork for his ascendancy to the top job was laid out in recent years. He has been responsible for the company's day-to-day operations since March 2006, when he was named president and chief operating officer. In May 2005, he took on the role of executive vice president of global brands. He joined VF in 1995 as executive vice president of VF's JanSport business.

McDonald, who will retain the title of chairman, is a 24-year VF veteran and one of the longest serving chief executives in the industry. He joined the company's Lee division in 1983 and worked his way up the management ranks. He was appointed president in 1993. Three years later he was named ceo, and in 1998 added the title of chairman. McDonald will "remain involved on a full-time basis" to help identify future acquisition targets, the company said in a statement. Regulatory filings indicate that McDonald, 60, is eligible to serve on the board up to age 72.

"We are in a great place in that VF's transformation to a global lifestyle apparel company is well underway and producing outstanding results for shareholders," McDonald said in a statement. "We have achieved four consecutive years of record earnings and we anticipate another record year in 2007. In terms of management succession, I wanted to transition out of the ceo role when VF was in a very strong position with a very bright future and that's where we are today."

While multibrand apparel companies such as Jones Apparel Group, Liz Claiborne Inc. and Kellwood Co. have stumbled in recent years, VF has proved its formula is working. Revenues from continuing operations rose 45.7 percent to $6.21 billion in 2006 from $4.27 billion in 2002. Earnings for 2006 came in at $533.5 million, or $4.72 a diluted shared, compared with a loss of $154.5 million, or $1.38 a share, in 2002. Management expects another record year of revenues and earnings this year.

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