NEW YORK -- Jerome A. Chazen, Liz Claiborne's chairman and chief executive officer, emphatically denied reports that he would retire by spring.

"I am not retiring, and I have no plans to," said Chazen in an interview in his office here with Paul R. Charron, vice chairman and chief operating officer, who came on board in April from VF Corp. "We have a difficult road ahead of us. This is the most challenging time in the industry, and Paul and I need one another."

Chazen was responding to a WWD article, published Thursday, page 2, that reported he might exit his Claiborne post soon. Both he and Charron also blasted reports of tensions between them, also noted in the article.

Chazen, 67, one of the architects of the firm's phenomenal growth in the Eighties, has been with the company since 1977, the year after it was founded. Since coming on board in April, Charron, 50, has been perceived by many industry sources as Chazen's successor.

"This is an organization in a state of flux, and we are trying to make this into a more responsive company that needs to be moving ahead," said Charron, who has been rapidly making restructuring changes in the firm's better-price and moderate-price sportswear divisions.

"Challenges are being met with new and different approaches and we are going to deploy these approaches," Charron said, "and we are collaborating...We are both pulling in the same direction."

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