NEW YORK — Koret dipped into retail for its new captain.

Harold Brooks has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Koret, Kellwood Co.’s second-largest women’s business and home to brands such as Napa Valley, Melrose and the division’s namesake label.

The new ceo takes the helm on Dec. 8 and succeeds Fred Smeyne, who is retiring after 34 years with the company, but who will stay on through March to ease the transition. Brooks will report to Stephen Ruzow, president of Kellwood women’s wear.

The new ceo brings with him an extensive background in retailing, having been president and ceo of the Famous-Barr division of May Department Stores Co. from 1998 to 2000. Before that, he put in 20 years at Hecht’s, also a May Co. property, rising to senior vice president and general merchandise manager. Most recently, he developed international expansion plans for specialty retailer Build-A-Bear Workshop.

“Harold’s strong retailing background in merchandising and strategic planning coupled with his impressive retailer relationships will provide the leadership the Koret team needs as we continue to expand the product offerings under the Koret umbrella, modernize the product and launch new initiatives such as Dockers Tops and Beliza,” Ruzow said in a statement.

Larry Burak also was elevated to the new position of chief operating officer of Koret, with responsibility for finance, customer service-retail outlets and information technology. Burak, who had been executive vice president of operations, will report to Brooks.

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