LOWENBERG SAID TO LEAVE CASUAL CORNER
NEW YORK — Mark Lowenberg, president of Casual Corner, has reportedly left his position after 17 months of trying to steer the specialty chain to a recovery.
“The personnel situation is very liquid in Enfield, Conn.,” said a financial source, referring to the location of U.S. Shoe’s base for its apparel business.
Casual Corner, the largest division in U.S. Shoe’s women’s group, with around $700 million in annual sales, has been dragging down corporate earnings. U.S. Shoe said Thursday it expects a fourth-quarter loss of 18 cents to 23 cents per share, far deeper than the 2-cent loss Wall Street anticipated. It said weak apparel sales at Casual Corner and Petite Sophisticates offset strong performances at Lenscrafters and footwear units. No personnel changes were announced.
According to reports, U.S. Shoe is negotiating to sell the apparel business to a European concern with retailing in the U.S., but is not close to a deal. Reportedly, Merrill Lynch expressed interest in buying U.S. Shoe and spinning off some non-apparel units.
At Casual Corner, “Lowenberg wasn’t the right fit,” said one source. Lowenberg built a strong reputation at Macy’s East, where he rose to merchandising president before joining Casual Corner. One strategy Lowenberg pushed at Casual Corner was to accelerate importing out of Hong Kong, attempting to build markup and margins, but, the source said, “It’s been a problem with products.” Lowenberg could not be reached.