NEW YORK -- Bernard Chaus Inc. said Monday it hired Wayne S. Miller, formerly crisis manager for USA Classic Inc., as executive vice president of finance and administration, and chief financial officer.

Miller replaces Anthony M. Pisano, who resigned on June 17. Pisano will stay on as a consultant until Aug. 31, when he intends to leave Chaus, according to a company spokeswoman. Pisano could not be reached for comment.

Miller will be responsible for finance, operations and strategic planning at Chaus, which for two years has been attempting a turnaround amid mounting loses.

Miller was hired as crisis manager for USA Classic about three weeks prior to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in May. Before that, Miller was president and chief executive officer for three years at Publix Group L.P., a private label men's dress shirt manufacturer that filed a Chapter 11 petition in July 1993. Unable to find a buyer, Publix Group liquidated last December.

In a telephone interview, Miller ruled out any connection between his hiring and a possible Chapter 11 filing. No discussions of this nature have taken place, he said.

"It's a great opportunity for me," he said. "The product is right on target. We have a lot of work to do, but it's a great opportunity."

The moderate-priced women's sportswear manufacturer is still negotiation with The Bank of New York for future financing. The bank waived certain covenants in its loan agreement in the third quarter ended March 31 after Josephine Chaus, chairwoman and ceo, personally provided a $3 million letter of credit to support the company's line.

In the nine months ended March 31, Chaus's losses widened to $17.1 million from $1.1 million, reflecting markdowns and poor sales. Sales declined 6 percent, to $170.2 million. In the year ended June 1993, Chaus lost $11 million.

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