Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. has poached Liz Claiborne’s Jill Granoff as chief executive officer of the company.

Granoff, who has been Claiborne’s executive vice president of direct brands, will take over the day-to-day responsibilities for the 25-year-old Kenneth Cole brand, which has been trying to elevate itself for the last few years, from Kenneth Cole, who will give up his career-long title as ceo but continue as chairman and chief creative officer.

“My strength is that of the creative force, whose background is in product and wholesale, while Jill is an operator who understands brand building, processes and retail,” Cole told WWD. “We will work well together.”

Granoff’s departure is a blow to Claiborne, where under ceo William L. McComb, she was the lone group president promoted last year to executive vice president of direct brands, including Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand Jeans, in which the struggling company had based its future. She earned $1.4 million in 2007 at Claiborne, but said the lure of being the ceo of a public company was too good to pass up.

For complete coverage, see Wednesday’s WWD.

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