NEW YORK -- Andrew Grossman, a driving force behind the revitalization of the Jones Apparel Group, has resigned as president of that firm to join Bernard Chaus Inc. as chief executive officer, effective Nov. 1.

The ceo position had been held by Josephine Chaus, who continues as director and chairman. Chaus and Grossman will form an "Office of the Chairman," which will direct the strategy and operations of the beleaguered sportswear firm. Grossman will also be appointed to the board. Richard Baker remains as director and president of the company and will report to Grossman and Chaus.

According to sources, Grossman, 35, is "getting paid megabucks to go over there" after receiving several counteroffers from Jones.

"It was one of the hardest decisions of my life," said Grossman in a telephone interview from Milan. But, he added, "this gives me an opportunity to be ceo of a company and get another chance at turning another company around." He declined to discuss potential new strategies.

Chaus, a moderate-priced apparel house, has been losing market share for several years and had a $10.9 million loss in 1993 on revenue of $235.8 million.

The bad news at Chaus has continued into 1994: In the nine months ended March 31, losses hit $17.1 million, on a sales decline of 6 percent to $170.2 million from $181.2 million. Its fiscal fourth quarter results have not been released yet.

Grossman, who joined Jones Apparel as president of the Norma Kamali division in 1986, is widely known for his merchandising skills and played a key role in repositioning the Jones label into a powerhouse in the better market. In 1993, Jones posted a 20 percent jump in earnings to $49.7 million, and a 24 percent sales increase to $541.1 million.

Grossman declined to comment on his negotiations with Chaus, but sources report he had been in discussions with Josephine Chaus for about two months. Chaus had hired search firm J.D. Ross International, which hooked the company up with Grossman. J.D. Ross is also the company that helped Calvin Klein steal Gabriella Forte from Giorgio Armani.

Grossman, who is still at Jones, declined to comment on his resignation date. He was executive vice president of Jones Apparel from 1990 to 1991 and vice president of merchandising for Jones New York from 1987 through 1990. Prior to joining Jones in 1986, he had held positions at various companies, including WilliWear Ltd., Herbert Grossman Enterprises, the Ralph Lauren Womenswear division of Bidermann Industries, Inc. and the Evan Picone division of Palm Beach Inc.At Jones, Sidney Kimmel, chairman, will immediately assume the additional duties and functions of president.

Jones also announced the appointment of Ellen Daniel to the new post of senior vice president and corporate merchandise manager. Daniel was a long-time employee of Liz Claiborne Inc. Most recently, she was merchandise director at SK & Co., a division of Bonaventure Textiles USA.

In a statement, Kimmel said, "We recognize the contribution that Andy Grossman has made to the Jones Apparel Group, and we wish him much success in his new position."

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