By  on February 3, 2017
Karen Murray

Steven Rendle, the new chief executive officer of VF Corp., is starting to make his presence felt and Nautica president Karen Murray is among the first to exit the company under the new regime.Rendle last month took the reins at the Greensboro, N.C.-based company, succeeding Eric Wiseman. He had been president and chief operating officer.Late Thursday, shortly after Nautica had shown its fall collection at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, VF said Brendan Sullivan had been named president of sportswear and Murray would become a senior brand adviser to the organization.Murray, a highly respected industry veteran who has been with VF for just under a decade, did not give a timetable on when she would depart, but will remain through a transition period.Sullivan was vice president of direct-to-consumer for VF and was based in the company’s headquarters in North Carolina. He will oversee Kipling in addition to Nautica and will report to Curt Holtz, president of Imagewear, Jeans and Sportswear Brands for VF.Nina Flood, president of Kipling North America, which Murray also oversaw, will also report to Sullivan.“I love this brand, I love this team,” Murray said, “but Steve is the new ceo and he wants his own team.”Murray admitted that a significant brand repositioning that Nautica undertook in the fall of 2015 where it focused on more-contemporary merchandise, was not successful. “The repositioning was subtle and did not resonate with the customer,” she said. “We recognized that in March and we turned the organization around to bring in new product with a focus on heritage and authentic logoed product reinvented from the Nineties.”That “quick return to classic sportswear” is selling well, she said, and the fall collection designed by Steve McSween and shown Feb. 1, continues down that same path. “We pulled everything from the archives and brought in Lil Yachty.” Nautica brought the rapper on board last year by creating a successful capsule collection for Urban Outfitters and in January expanded that relationship, naming him a creative designer who will design capsules and appear in digital and social media advertising campaigns. “We built product with him already for all of 2017 and into the first half of 2018,” she said.Although Murray will not be at VF to see that product hit the floors, she’s confident she will soon find another job within the industry. “I’m not done,” she said. “I have a passion for the brand and the people here and I will build something somewhere else.”Before joining VF in 2007, Murray was group president of Liz Claiborne. She has also worked for Gant.Sullivan joined VF in 2007 as vice president of retail services. He led the direct-to-consumer business for the company’s contemporary and Timberland brands and later the European business. Prior to VF, he was with the Borders Group and L Brands, where he focused on operations, merchandising and marketing. VF is in a quiet period in advance of its earnings release later this month and a spokesperson said as a result, Sullivan was unavailable to comment on Friday.

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