Shares of Talbots , which sells classic women's clothing at its namesake chain and more casual clothing at its J. Jill chain, jumped 9 percent in morning trade.
Sullivan, 57, will assume her new position on August 6, succeeding Arnold Zetcher, who previously announced his intention to retire. Zetcher will remain chairman of Talbots' board through March 31, 2008.
Sullivan will also join Talbots' board.
Liz Claiborne, which is in the process of restructuring, said it plans to eliminate the position of president and that it is almost done searching for an executive vice president for its newly formed "partnered brands" division, which includes the Liz Claiborne, Dana Buchman and Ellen Tracy lines.
New York-based Liz Claiborne, which owns more than 40 brands, is scheduled to announce the strategic plan of its new chief executive, named in October, at a meeting on July 11.
Analysts, including Credit Suisse's Omar Saad, are expecting the company to pursue strategic options for some of its underperforming brands.
Saad upgraded Liz shares Thursday to "outperform" from "neutral" based on his belief that Liz Claiborne will soon become a healthy company with a few powerful brands -- Juicy Couture, Lucky Brands, Mexx and Kate Spade -- rather than a struggling operation with many weak ones.
The company's namesake, designer Liz Claiborne, died in New York on Tuesday at the age of 78. She retired from active management in 1989.
Talbots' shares were up $2.04 at $24.30 on the New York Stock Exchange, while Liz shares were down 2 cents at $37.38.