By  on April 25, 1994

NEW YORK -- Making a long-awaited move to fortify its top management, Liz Claiborne Inc. said Friday it has named Paul R. Charron, executive vice president of VF Corp., as vice chairman and chief operating officer.

Charron, 51, who will report to Jerome A. Chazen, chairman and chief executive officer, fills a void left by Jay Margolis, who resigned last July as vice chairman. The appointment, moreover, could eventually define a line of succession at Claiborne.

Over the last nine months, analysts had expressed concern about a lack of a successor to steer the company when Chazen, 67, retires. Many had assumed that Margolis was the heir apparent.

Although the title of chief operating officer is new, the Charron appointment creates again a three-part top management, which includes Harvey Falk, who continues as vice chairman and president. It would also appear to be a response to criticism from the Wall Street community that the firm needed to beef up its roster of top officials with a seasoned executive from the outside.

Chazen, in a phone interview Friday, however, declined to comment on any succession plan, only saying, "We are not thinking of Charron as a replacement but more of a partnership. Right now I have no plans to retire."

Chazen has been with the firm since 1977, the year after it was founded by Elisabeth Claiborne Ortenberg -- known professionally as Liz Claiborne -- her husband Arthur Ortenberg and Leonard Boxer. All three founders have been retired for several years.

Chazen said that he picked Charron, who spent six years at VF Corp. because of his "strong marketing and consumer background."

At VF, Charron served as a group vice president until March 1993, when he was promoted to executive vice president, overseeing sportswear -- including the Marithe & Francois Girbaud line and the Jantzen division -- and the domestic and overseas intimate apparel businesses, whose prime brand is Vanity Fair. He also oversaw the Healthtex and Cutler children's wear, Red Kap occupational apparel and VF's factory outlet operations.

VF said Friday that Mackey J. McDonald, president and chief operating officer, will assume Charron's responsibilities. McDonald moved up to president from group vice president also in March 1993.

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