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NEW YORK — Bruce Klatsky is stepping down as chief executive officer of Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., leaving the company in the hands of his longtime number two, Mark Weber.
Weber, PVH’s president and chief operating officer, will take over as ceo on June 14, the day of the firm’s annual meeting. Klatsky will stay as chairman for one year. Emanuel Chirico, 47, executive vice president and chief financial officer, will become president and chief operating officer.
“I’ve been apprenticing for 33 years,” joked Weber, who has worked alongside Klatsky for all that time. He became president in 1998. “Bruce is a very multi-dimensional guy. He’s very interested in the world at large, in doing the right things for the world. Bruce at this point in life decided to pursue other interests. We planned to walk into the sunset together. It turned out that we had different time zones.”
Weber, 55, joined PVH six months after Klatsky, 56, and they worked their way up the company’s career ladder in tandem.
“The succession plan has been obvious for several years,” said Klatsky, who began his career as a trainee in the merchandising department 34 years ago and became ceo in 1993. “The catalyst was really that we are roughly two years ahead of our business plan. The Calvin Klein integration has been far better than we have ever anticipated. The company is in incredible shape so it’s a perfect time for me to pass on the torch.”
Klatsky was instrumental in the Calvin Klein Inc. deal. PVH acquired the brand in 2003 with the help of Apax Partners, which owns 38 percent of PVH. Klatsky had pursued CKI for two years before signing a deal worth $700 million. He also spearheaded the strategy for CKI that included launching new women’s and men’s better-priced sportswear lines. Klatsky considered these businesses as a $1 billion opportunity.
For the year ended Feb. 1, 2004, PVH posted a loss available to common shareholders of $5.3 million. Exclusive of transition costs related to the CKI deal and other items, PVH’s income increased 65.8 percent to $50.5 million. Sales for the year rose 12.6 percent to $1.58 billion.
This story first appeared in the March 7, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Klatsky said health wasn’t an issue in his decision.
“I am healthy, I worked out last night, bench-pressed 185 pounds,” he said, laughing. “No, I have been with PVH for 34 years and I have always said that my desire was to be able to exit while I was still young enough to give something back to the world and not be concerned economically.” He plans to focus much of his attention on Human Rights Watch, an independent, nongovernmental organization he has been involved with for a decade.
“Our businesses are at a fairly remarkable period,” Klatsky said. “We don’t have one weak sister in our company. Our dress shirt business is concluding its second record year in a row. Our sportswear is concluding its second year of record profitability and our Calvin Klein business is two years ahead of business plan, and I have two very very capable colleagues.
“Our cash flow is such that we are going to be looking aggressively for more acquisitions and that would require a major commitment from me for a number of years with the company,” Klatsky said.
Weber said Klatsky had talked about his departure from PVH for a “long time,” but stayed as part of his commitment to follow through with the firm’s acquisition of Calvin Klein Inc. While Klatsky took on the more high-profile role when Calvin Klein was acquired, Weber continued focusing on developing the company and its operations.
“[Klatsky] was the architect for the acquisition,” Tom Murry, CKI’s president and chief operating officer, said. “That was tremendously creative and would never have happened without his tenacity, that he was capable of making it happen. That said, I think that was his primary contribution. Most of the integration work between Calvin Klein and PVH really was headed by Mark Weber. We started working closely on the operations of the business about a year prior to the acquisition with Mark. I think Mark gets most of the credit for a remarkably, historically smooth integration of Calvin Klein into PVH.”
There is also an expectation that it will be business as usual even under a new ceo.
“Mark has allowed me to run CK fairly autonomously,” Murry said. “He has been a good partner as well as a good boss, he is a good listener, he has a very keen instinct about how to prioritize his time and where his involvement is needed. I think the changes at CK will be very minimal if at all.”
David Landau of Apax Partners and the lead director at PVH said, “There’s no intention for any sort of change to the company’s strategy or direction. The company has been performing extremely well. The prospect for the company’s future is extremely bright….I fully expect that the company will continue on its present course with a very smooth transition.”