Jones Apparel Group Inc. has named Aru Kulkarni, who was chief customer officer for Liz Claiborne Inc.’s partnered brands division, as president of sales for its women’s wholesale sportswear unit.

Kulkarni oversees all wholesale sales functions for Anne Klein New York, AK Anne Klein, Nine West sportswear, and Jones New York Collection, Signature and Sport, which combined for sales of $1.1 billion last year. All vice presidents of sales in the women’s wholesale sportswear division report to Kulkarni.

Based in New York, Kulkarni reports to Susan Metzger, chief executive officer of the women’s wholesale sportswear division. Metzger had been president of sales and marketing prior to her promotion in July 2007, and since then she had been serving in both capacities.

“We continue to evolve the better sportswear collections to focus on a more modern approach to styling and assortments and are very pleased with the positive reception our current product offerings have been receiving,” said Metzger. “I am confident that with Aru on the team, we will further enhance our existing customer relationships and build new ones.”

Prior to joining Claiborne in 2000, Kulkarni held various sales roles at Warnaco Group Inc. from 1992 until 2000, and at Maidenform Inc. from 1989 until 1992.

“I believe there is good opportunity to leverage my relationships and experience to benefit the better and bridge business,” Kulkarni said.

Kulkarni will not be replaced at Claiborne, according to a company spokeswoman, and most of her responsibilities will shift to Benedetta Casamento, president of Liz Claiborne brands.

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