NEW YORK — The search for a new president at Holt Renfrew heated up this week with reports that Caryn Lerner is among the candidates.

Lerner could not be reached for comment Monday. Twelve months ago, Lerner departed from Escada, where she was a co-president of the U.S. division, at a time of difficulties for the company. She joined Escada as president of its Sport Division in 1996, and was named president and chief marketing officer for the U.S. business in 1998, responsible for sales, merchandising and marketing functions.

While well known in the industry, Lerner is considered more of a wholesaler than a retailer. Before Escada, she worked at On-Q, a former division of QVC.

Joseph Cicio, a former Macy’s executive and president of British fragrance retailer Penhaligon’s until several months ago, also has been in talks with Holt Renfrew, but the discussions were not in advanced stages, according to sources.

It is believed that the upscale Toronto-based Holt Renfrew is talking with other executives in its search for a successor to Andrew Jennings, who was president and managing director of Holt Renfrew until February, when he became president and chief merchandising officer at Saks Fifth Avenue.

A Holt Renfrew spokeswoman said Friday the company would not confirm anything about the job candidates.

The $250 million Holt Renfrew operates nine retail units and two clearance centers and is part of Wittington Investments, controlled by billionaire Galen Weston, who is also owner and chairman of Holt Renfrew. Aside from Holt Renfrew, Weston’s high-end retail holdings include Brown Thomas in Ireland and Selfridges in the U.K.

— David Moin

This story first appeared in the September 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.