NEW YORK — Could Kellwood Co. be getting close to naming its new chief executive officer?

This story first appeared in the April 3, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

According to sources, Jill Granoff, former chief executive officer of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc., may be the leading contender to become the next ceo of Kellwood, succeeding Michael Kramer, who joined J.C. Penney Co. Inc. in December as chief operating officer.

A spokeswoman for Kellwood said there was no news at this time, and Granoff declined comment.

Granoff has just ended a one-year non-compete from her role at KCP. Before joining KCP in 2008, Granoff was executive vice president at Liz Claiborne, Inc., where she had global responsibility for Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand Jeans, Kate Spade and the company’s e-commerce and outlet businesses. Before that she spent 17 years in the beauty industry. She served as president and chief operating officer of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, as well as senior vice president, strategic planning, finance and information systems at Estée Lauder Inc. Since August, Granoff has served on the board of directors of Demandware, an e-commerce company.

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Kramer aggressively changed Kellwood’s culture and complexion, scooping up brands and turning it into more of a contemporary firm. Its current roster of brands include Vince, Rebecca Taylor, Lamb & Flag, BLK DNM, David Meister, XOXO, Zobha, Jolt, My Michelle, Baby Phat, Phat Farm, Sag Harbor and Briggs NY. Kellwood also operates retail stores for several of its brands, namely Vince, Rebecca Taylor, Lamb & Flag, and BLK DNM. In December, Kellwood decided it would no longer fund the Adam business, the first disposal since Kramer left Kellwood.

Sun Capital Securities Group, a subsidiary of Sun Capital Partners Inc., purchased Kellwood for $762 million in February 2008.

Kramer, at the time of his departure, emphasized that he had accomplished what he set out to do at Kellwood, and called the chance to reinvent the way one shops at Penney’s “an opportunity of a lifetime.” Kramer had worked with Ron Johnson, ceo of Penney’s, while at Apple.

At KCP, Granoff was succeeded by Paul Blum as ceo.

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