Taking a step that leaves the management of its Juicy Couture unit in limbo, Liz Claiborne Inc. has moved Edgar Huber from the post of chief executive officer of Juicy to a new position as executive vice president of global business development for the entire company.
The move means that LeAnn Nealz, who joined Juicy as president and chief creative officer in September from a similar post at American Eagle Outfitters Inc., and John DeFalco, the chief financial officer and chief operations officer, “will jointly manage the Juicy Couture business while the leadership structure for the brand going forward is determined,” the company said.
Nealz and DeFalco will report to William L. McComb, ceo of Liz Claiborne, and Huber will continue to do so. Huber’s title at Juicy shifted to ceo from president upon Nealz’s arrival.
The reassignment of Huber effectively drags the questions pertaining to Juicy’s management into a second year. Co-founders Gela Nash-Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy relinquished day-to-day responsibility for the brand in January 2010 and plan to launch a new label this year upon expiration of their non-compete agreement.
Culminating a four-year search, Huber joined Juicy as president in 2008 after 16 years with L’Oréal, most recently as managing director of major markets. At L’Oréal, he served as president of Kiehl’s Since 1851 beginning in 2002 and was credited with expanding the brand’s retail network from two stores to more than 60.
“Edgar’s considerable experience in global licensing and business development will bring focused oversight to, and accelerate, our international efforts, many under way already, in 2011,” McComb commented.
Juicy, McComb added, opened 46 stores and entered numerous international partnerships during Huber’s tenure.
However, Juicy’s retail results hit a rough patch in December. Comparable-store sales, including e-commerce revenues, rose 3 percent in October and 9 percent in November before falling 5 percent in the year’s final month, reducing the fourth-quarter comp to an increase of 1 percent and contributing to a lowering of fourth-quarter guidance by the company on Jan. 6. McComb cited reduced traffic and fashion misses for “comparable sales and gross profit in December at Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand and Mexx Europe that were clearly disappointing.”
Also in January, Kate Foster, Juicy’s vice president of global marketing and communications, left the firm.