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Mexx Names Kolbe Chief Merchant

Liz Claiborne has tapped Chris Kolbe, president and global brand manager for Original Penguin, as chief merchant.

Mexx’s sales dropped 29 percent in the fourth quarter.

Liz Claiborne Inc. has tapped Chris Kolbe, president and global brand manager for Original Penguin, as chief merchant of Mexx.

He succeeds Kevin Castanheiro, vice president of the brand, who left the company to return to Canada and pursue a different career, according to Claiborne.

Claiborne hopes Kolbe can provide new direction to turn around the troubled Mexx, which saw fourth-quarter sales fall 29 percent to $238 million. Based at the $1 billion retailer’s Amsterdam headquarters, Kolbe reports to Tom Fitzgerald, interim chief executive officer. The company is still searching for a ceo.

“Chris is a proven senior executive with excellent vision, leadership and brand-building skills,” said Fitzgerald. “He is also an innovative merchant with a passion and eye for product, marketing and visual presentation.”

Before joining Original Penguin in 2002, Kolbe worked for two years at Urban Outfitters, where he was men’s divisional merchandise manager. Prior to that he had stints at Polo Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and Saks Fifth Avenue.