By  on January 19, 2005

NEW YORK — Jay Margolis is back in apparel.

The former president of Reebok International Ltd. has been appointed to the newly created role of group president of Limited Brands’ apparel segment.

Margolis will oversee both the Express and Limited Stores divisions, Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Brands said in a statement Tuesday. He will report to chairman and chief executive officer Leslie Wexner and vice chairman and chief operating officer Len Schlesinger and will join the newly created Limited Brands Executive Leadership Team, which will oversee financial and operations management.

Margolis, 55, resigned his post at Reebok as president and chief operating officer at the end of November under what he said was a mutual agreement accelerated by Reebok chairman and ceo Paul Fireman’s interest in taking over the company he began 25 years ago. The company had seen its apparel business lag and international growth slow.

Prior to his roles at Reebok, which he held for over two years, Margolis was president of the athletic company’s specialty business groups overseeing the Ralph Lauren, Rockport and Greg Norman brands. Margolis also has held executive roles at Esprit de Corp., Tommy Hilfiger/Pepe and Liz Claiborne.

“Jay brings to Limited Brands an impressive track record and extensive brand-building experience,” Wexner said in the statement. “As group president, apparel, he will drive group integration and will leverage idea generation and innovation across the apparel brands and distribution channels.”

Margolis faces challenges as the $9 billion Limited Brands moves to reignite growth at several of its apparel formats in the face of ever-increasing competition. Even Wexner seemed to acknowledge the difficulties in apparel last October in his annual update to investors and analysts when he characterized the segment as “not a great field of growth” and said the specialty apparel business was not as exciting as it was 20 years ago. Wexner at that time outlined aggressive plans for Limited Brands to grow in beauty and intimate apparel, although he said that with downsizing Limited Stores, establishing Express as a dual-gender business with a more upscale and designed assortment, among other changes, “progress in the apparel businesses in the last 12 months was greater than in the last 12 years.”Speaking about his future prospects at the time he stepped down at Reebok last October, Margolis told WWD that “I want to get involved in a company where I can help them focus on their product…I am looking at men’s and women’s firms. I wouldn’t mind running a conglomerate.”

In other executive moves at Limited Brands, Wexner will assume group leader responsibilities for lingerie, including the company’s Victoria’s Secret brand, and Schlesinger will now also oversee beauty and personal care, including the Bath & Body Works unit. Wexner and Schlesinger will share responsibility for Henri Bendel and Victoria’s Secret Beauty.

In addition, Deborah Fine, founder and president of Avon Future, will join the company as ceo of Victoria’s Secret Pink division. In the newly formed role, Fine, 44, will be charged with developing Pink into a lifestyle brand and will report to Wexner and Schlesinger. She will also join the Limited Brands Executive Leadership Team.

Previously, Fine spent 23 years in magazine publishing, holding executive positions at Condé Nast Publications as vice president and publisher of Glamour, publisher of Bride’s and director of fashion and retail advertising at Vanity Fair.

Finally, Martyn Redgrave, 52, chief financial officer of Carlson Companies Inc., has been appointed to the newly created role of executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Limited Brands. Redgrave, who will also join the executive leadership team, has worked for Carlson Companies, a privately held hospitality, travel and marketing firm, for 11 years. He held prior positions at Pepsico Inc.

Starting dates for Margolis, Fine and Redgrave have not been determined, a Limited spokesman said Tuesday.

“We are poised for accelerated future growth and we need the depth and breadth of leadership to achieve it,” Wexner said. “This newly assembled leadership team will provide the needed intense focus and oversight in lingerie, beauty, personal care and apparel to maximize our growth potential.”

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