What's this world coming to? Retail and consumer goods name Liz Claiborne
After all, hiring somebody from a completely different industry to run a company sounds like an unusual, and quite possibly ineffective, strategy. Personally, the first thing I thought of when I heard this news was how Gap
Of course, Drexler may have been savvy about fashion, but he was also associated with being at the helm when the Gap took on a boatload of debt and overexpanded. So it stands to reason that an individual may know his or her industry inside and out and still make missteps when it comes to operating a successful company.
There's much more to Liz Claiborne's move than meets the eye. First and foremost, this isn't out of left field and in fact has some degree of precedent -- before he joined Liz Claiborne, outgoing CEO Paul Charron had a stint at Procter & Gamble
Where I'm going with this is, there is a commonality here, which is consumer products. Although Johnson & Johnson is known for pharmaceuticals, it has a strong consumer brand component. As president of McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceuticals, McComb worked on revitalizing Tylenol's brand, which faced generic competition, and led the effort with new products and advertising as well as strengthening relationships with many big-name retailers. He also oversaw St. Joseph's baby aspirin, Motrin, and Clean & Clear.
This matters because Liz Claiborne isn't just a retailer -- although it does have more than 300 retail stores, it has fired past its reputation as a clothing line for mature women and bought up many more brands, such as Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand Jeans, to help spur future growth. It offers its brands not only through its own stores but also distributes them through many other retailers, so on further thought, it's easy to see where McComb's consumer marketing expertise can make an impact.
There are, of course, no guarantees that any CEO will bring success wherever he or she goes, despite many occasions where CEOs are positioned as "superstars." But for now, Liz Claiborne shareholders can probably take solace in the idea that the company's choice in CEOs isn't really as wacky as it may sound on the surface.
- J. Crew recently lost some directors, including a company co-founder.
- Gap rhymes with something .
- Liz Claiborne seemed dressed down earlier this year.
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Alyce Lomax doesn't own shares of any of the companies mentioned.