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Paul Blum to Exit Juicy Couture

He was brought in as ceo last December to lead turnaround efforts.

NEW YORK — Paul Blum, chief executive officer of Juicy Couture, has decided to leave the company, effective Jan. 31.

This story first appeared in the November 20, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Blum was brought in as ceo last December to lead turnaround efforts, focusing on global expansion, strengthening product categories and marketing to the global consumer.

“It’s been a great year for me personally and professionally,” said Blum, in an interview at Juicy Couture’s offices at 1440 Broadway here. “It was a great experience working with Bill McComb and Fifth & Pacific, and taking over where LeAnn Nealz [former president and chief creative officer] really left off. The brand had some good creative momentum and there was a good business opportunity. There was a lot of low hanging fruit.”

Last month, Fifth & Pacific Co. Inc. sold the intellectual property assets of Juicy Couture to Authentic Brands Group for $195 million. As part of the deal, F&P entered into a short-term licensing agreement with ABG that runs through the end of 2014 and guarantees ABG a minimum royalty payment of $10 million. F&P will continue to operate Juicy retail stores through June. The plan is for ABG to name operating partners or licensees for Juicy shortly. Kohl’s said last week it would start carrying Juicy Couture for fall 2014.

William L. McComb, ceo of Fifth & Pacific said, “In the year he has been with us, Paul charted a new course for Juicy Couture and led his team toward global growth through line extensions, improved marketing with a focus on digital and social media, omnichannel retailing and licensing. The initiatives he put in place — both visible and invisible to the consumer — have been wins for the brand. With the sale to Authentic Brands Group, however, Paul determined it was time to move on.”

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Jamie Salter, ceo of ABG, said that he hasn’t named a successor to Blum yet, and he and the new international licensee will make that decision in the coming weeks.

“Paul has been an incredible transition guy. He’ll stay and make sure fall and holiday product is in good order for the licensees to order in January,” said Salter.

Blum was previously ceo of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc., which he rejoined in March 2011 as vice chairman and was named ceo two months later. He returned to Cole after five years as ceo of David Yurman, the designer jewelry firm. Blum earlier spent 15 years at Cole in various roles, including president and chief operating officer.

Looking back on the past year, Blum believes his biggest accomplishment was cultivating the global customer. “We really developed our assortments, marketing and presentation to the global consumer,” he said. He said the brand made significant inroads on the digital and e-commerce fronts and developed a strong link between social media and e-commerce. The company went global with its Web site and is now shipping around the world. He’s also proud of the fact that he was able to “allow creative people to optimize their performance.”

So where does Blum see himself next? “I’m a hard guy to classify. I started out as a designer and have been involved in operations as well. I have a strong design background, as well as a merchandising background. I would love to continue nurturing, developing and building brands,” he said. “It’s something I’ve really enjoyed between Juicy, David Yurman and Kenneth Cole.”