CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.--In a move aimed at bringing "new technology and operational improvements" to the company, Signal Apparel Co. said it has named Bruce Krebs president and chief operating officer and Gary LaBelle vice president of operations. Krebs succeeds current president Leon Ruchlamer, who will remain in charge of Signal's mill operations, while Krebs will focus on the operations of Signal's consumer brands and licenses. According to company officials, Ruchlamer's new title hasn't been determined yet, and LaBelle's post is new. William Watts, who had been chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Signal, will relinquish the chief operating officer post to Krebs. Krebs will report to Marvin Winkler, chairman and chief executive officer. According to Signal, the new executives will focus on electronic data interchange and automatic replenishment, achieving rapid product turnaround times, consolidating operations and reducing returns. Krebs was president of H.H. Cutler, Grand Rapids, Mich., a children's wear division of VF Corp. LaBelle was vice president of operations for Cutler. According to Hal Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Cutler, Krebs was succeeded six weeks ago by Tom Austin, former vice president of operations at Healthtex, another VF company. LaBelle was succeeded by Jim Miller, who was in charge of Cutler's international sourcing. Signal, which makes a variety of knitwear, has suffered a series of hefty losses. In 1994, the firm posted a loss of $53.4 million against a loss of $34.8 million in 1993. The 1994 loss included a $26.5 million writeoff for the goodwill from the 1991 acquisition of The Shirt Shed Inc. Sales in 1994 fell to $95.8 million from $131 million. In the first quarter of this year, Signal reported a loss of $5.3 million on sales of $26.2 million. In a move toward building up its fashion offerings, the firm recently received a license to produce a knitwear collection--including sweaters, dresses and related separates--carrying the name of designer Cynthia Rowley. The line--aiming at retail prices under $200--will be introduced for spring 1996 retailing. Signal also holds the license for the Joan Vass USA knitwear collection.
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