Byline: Kristin Larson / With contributions from Dana Lenetz

NEW YORK — To allow him more time to focus on the creative aspect of the business, Kenneth Cole has promoted Paul Blum to president of Kenneth Cole Productions.
In this role, Blum will oversee various operating entities at the firm, including wholesale, licensing, international, marketing and consumer direct. Blum, who had been chief operating officer, joined the firm in 1990. He will still report to Cole, who serves as chairman, chief executive officer and chief creative director.
“[Paul’s promotion] unifies all of the business initiatives in one place and gives us the ability to identify the efficiencies and synergies internally, and be more strategic corporately,” said Cole, who has also been president. “Paul has played an important role in getting us where we are and understands how to move us forward.”
Blum added that he thinks it’s a sign of a healthy organization when a company expands from within.
“Kenneth felt this was the right time based on the growing size of the company,” Blum said. “Also, the challenges of the retail environment spurred the promotion. It made us get more organized and focused on who does what.”
A company spokeswoman said the move will allow Cole to focus his energies on the creative aspect of the business — from overseeing the design of product to the design of an ad.
For the year ended Dec. 31, the firm’s income was down 57 percent to $16.6 million. Revenues fell 5 percent to $386.1 million.
Blum has served as chief operating officer since 1998 and was previously executive vice president at Kenneth Cole. Prior to joining the firm, he was principal at a handbag manufacturer that became the first Kenneth Cole-licensed business. It was subsequently acquired by KC in 1990.
A search for a new chief operating officer is under way.