Peter Rizzo

NEW YORK — I.C. Isaacs & Co. Inc., which produces the Marithé & François Girbaud jeans brand in the U.S., on Tuesday named Peter Rizzo chairman.<BR><BR>Rizzo, 51, joined the firm as chief executive officer in December. He now...

NEW YORK — I.C. Isaacs & Co. Inc., which produces the Marithé & François Girbaud jeans brand in the U.S., on Tuesday named Peter Rizzo chairman.

Rizzo, 51, joined the firm as chief executive officer in December. He now succeeds Staffan Ahrenberg, a financial adviser to the brand’s designers, who took on the chairman post in February 2003 after François Girbaud and Marithé Bachellerie took a 42.2 percent stake in Isaacs, their U.S. licensee.

Rizzo said in an interview on Tuesday that his election to the chairman post “was actually part of the plan when they first hired me.”

“Staffan was at the end of his position and the end of his consulting agreement with the company, and this was the next logical move,” Rizzo said.

Since becoming ceo, the former Bergdorf Goodman president has revamped the merchandising approach of the Girbaud U.S. line, tying it more closely to the feel of the European signature line. He described the brand’s merchandising style in an interview last week as “a dual approach, a high-low approach.”

During the three months ended March 31 — Rizzo’s first full quarter at the helm and the most recent period for which Isaacs has released financial results — the company returned to profitability, posting net income of $864,581, while sales rose 31.3 percent to $21.7 million. This followed several years of losses, including a $1.7 million deficit last year.

Rizzo has said the firm expects be profitable for 2004. In Tuesday’s over-the-counter trading, Isaacs’ shares rose 25 cents, to $1.50, a new 52-week high.

— Scott Malone

This story first appeared in the July 21, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.