By  on October 3, 2011

After 24 years at Wacoal America Inc., Richard C. Murray, will retire March 31 as president of the U.S. unit of Wacoal Corp. He will assume the new position of vice chairman of Wacoal America April 1.

In Murray’s new role, he will oversee the transition of the management team in New York and will focus on special projects as well as evaluate merger and acquisition opportunities.

Robert Vitale will succeed Murray as president and will take on the new role of co-chief executive officer. Vitale joined Wacoal America in 1997 and currently serves as executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Kyoto-based Wacoal Corp., an innerwear powerhouse with annual wholesale sales in excess of $1.5 billion and more than 30 international subsidiaries, entered the U.S. market in 1985 with a $120 million investment during the first decade. Over the years, the U.S. operation was molded into a profitable lingerie business with estimated yearly revenues of more than $120 million. Wacoal-branded bras and undies are sold at major specialty stores including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.

During Murray’s tenure, the Wacoal brand became a leader in the high-quality, superior-fit bra business in the U.S., and key businesses were set up in the U.K. and Canada. He also oversaw the launches of the Awareness Bra for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, b.tempt’d, a young, contemporary bra brand, and the iPant, a seamless shaper microencapsulated with caffeine to help reduce cellulite.

Murray could not be reached for comment, but told WWD at a 20th anniversary party in Manhattan in 2005, “Wacoal America’s business has tripled over the past 10 years. The first 10 years was all hard work and the next 10 years reaped the benefits for Wacoal....We have built a very loyal base of Wacoal customers through our ability to successfully anticipate and respond to the changing tastes, preferences and physical needs of the American consumer.” At the time, he estimated that Wacoal’s trained specialists at stores have provided more than 1.3 million free bra fittings to American women since 1985.

Murray began his career as a certified accountant at Haskill & Sells, a public accounting firm in Baltimore. He later worked with Cluett Peabody & Co. for 17 years before joining Wacoal America as vice president of finance in 1987. In 1991, Murray was promoted to vice president of finance and operations and in 1993 was appointed president.

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