NEW YORK — Robert Bernard, president of Liz Claiborne International, will join J. Crew Group as president and chief operating officer in two weeks.

Bernard succeeds Arnold Cohen, who left in July to join London Fog as chairman and chief executive officer.

Bernard, 43, will be a key player in J. Crew’s overseas catalog and retail expansion, begun two years ago. He will report to Arthur Cinader, chairman of J. Crew, who oversees administrative and financial matters, and Emily Woods, vice chairman, the firm’s design and creative force. Woods is Cinader’s daughter. The family owns the company.

The Group includes J. Crew, Popular Club and Clifford & Wills catalogs and J. Crew Retail. The company said its 1993 volume was $700 million, with J. Crew accounting for about half that.

“Robert has a background that’s very appropriate to J. Crew,” said Robert Kerson of Levy & Kerson Associates, which handled the search for J. Crew’s president. “He has significant sourcing and product development experience and is an energetic leader.”

Just last week at a seminar at the National Retail Federation convention here, Bernard said Claiborne will expand its overseas business by 14 countries, adding to the current 28, and encouraged apparel retailers to investigate the potential of overseas growth.

He joined Claiborne in May 1985 as vice president of sportswear sales, and rose to president of Liz Claiborne Canada before being named to head the international division last year.

Prior to Claiborne, he was vice president of better sportswear for Macy’s in San Francisco, where he worked for 10 years.

Claiborne has not yet named a successor to Bernard.