LONDON FOG BACKERS REPORTEDLY SECURE ROBERT GREGORY AS CEO
NEW YORK — Investors for the troubled London Fog Corp. reportedly have tapped Robert E. Gregory Jr., the turnaround specialist of The Gitano Group, to lead its brand back to health.
According to sources, Gregory will be chief executive officer and will be joined by C. William Crain, who had been the number-two executive at Gitano during Gregory’s tenure. James Milligan is currently the ceo of the rainwear and outerwear manufacturer.
Together, Gregory and Crain are said to have a $4 million to $5 million compensation with the potential of an equity position, reportedly around 10 percent. Gregory’s appointment would be London Fog’s third survival attempt in 16 months.
Milligan, was named ceo in August 1994 when Arnold Cohen left after 12 months. He had been chairman of the board’s executive committee. Milligan came to London Fog from Sunbeam Corp.
Cohen’s stay at London Fog was stormy. Some of his strategies antagonized retailers, particularly when he demanded they not cut prices on the firm’s signature label until December though stores and customers were accustomed to buying coats on sale as early as August. At the same time, some industry sources said there were also quality problems.
Neither Gregory nor executives of London Fog could be reached for comment.
At Gitano, which he joined in February 1993 as chairman and ceo, Gregory was credited with masterminding a cost-cutting program and improving the company’s presence with retailers and consumers.
In an interview shortly after his appointment, Gregory said Gitano lacked the strong operating controls a company needs to successfully run a variety of product segments. At the time, Gitano was restructuring to zero in on its mass market jeanswear. In March of last year, The Gitano Group sold itself to Fruit of the Loom for $100 million cash and filed Chapter 11. Gitano was forced to put itself on the block when Wal-Mart, its top customer, said it would no longer buy from the company because of Gitano’s admission of customs fraud. Until 1990, Gregory was president and chief operating officer of VF Corp., a powerhouse in the jeans business, for 7 1/2 years. Before that, he spent three years as president of VF’s Lee division. Crain joined Gitano in June 1993 as vice chairman and chief operating officer. He had also been with Gregory at VF, holding the title of group vice president. Subsequently, he was executive vice president of Crystal Brands Inc., responsible for the men’s sportswear group.