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Kate Spade Leads Liz Claiborne’s Direct-to-Consumer Comps

Firm said its chief financial officer, Andrew Warren, is leaving the company on March 16.

NEW YORK — Kate Spade’s direct-to-consumer comparable sales for November and December were ahead of its sister brands at Liz Claiborne Inc.

This story first appeared in the January 10, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Comps for Kate Spade were up 39 percent in December and 81 percent in November, compared with Lucky Brand, which rose 21 percent in December and 16 percent in November. The third global lifestyle brand in the Liz portfolio is Juicy Couture, which posted negative comps in both months. Juicy comps were down 5 percent in December and fell 7 percent in November. The company said December results are “preliminary.”

William L. McComb, chief executive officer at Liz Claiborne, said: “Comps at Juicy were generally in line with our expectation, and we look forward to the new team’s product, which is shipping this month. We anticipate reporting a year-end inventory position that is below plan, particularly at Juicy Couture.”

The company also said it expects 2011 pro-forma adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, deprecation and amortization, excluding foreign currency transaction gains or losses, to be in-line with guidance, at the low end of the range of $80 to $90 million. That’s due largely to “negative comps and lower than planned gross margins at Juicy,” according to the ceo.

It also revised its forecasted 2012 adjusted EBITDA, excluding foreign currency transaction gains or losses, to the range of $125 million to $140 million from the previous guidance of $130 million to $150 million. McComb said the updated range reflects a “more cautious view of how much cost reduction we can achieve in 2012 versus 2013 as well as a more conservative outlook for the wholesale channel at both Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand.”

The firm’s net debt position at yearend of 2011 is expected to be between $265 million to $270 million, below its previously expected range of between $270 million to $290 million.

“In December, we completed two transactions that further strengthened our capital structure — the purchase of 100 million euro of our 5 percent euro notes as well as the exchange of $21 million of our 6 percent convertible notes into 6.2 million shares of stock. Importantly, we have sufficient cash to settle the remaining outstanding balance of 121.5 million euro of the 5 percent euro notes, which are due in July 2013,” McComb said.

Liz Claiborne said its chief financial officer, Andrew Warren, is leaving the company on March 16, by mutual agreement, to “pursue an opportunity in the media industry.”

It was later disclosed by Discovery Communications that the firm named Warren to the position of senior executive vice president and cfo, a post he is to take on March 26.

As reported, Liz Claiborne is planning on changing its name to Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., and will trade under its new stock symbol “FNP” on the New York Stock Exchange.