Two months ago, the CEO of American fashion power player Liz Claiborne (LIZ), joined us on”Fast Money” -- on a day when the company's profit plunged 65% on lower sales to department stores. Today the company held its analyst meeting, and announced dramatic changes designed to drive long-term growth
Here are some highlights: a strategic review of 16 brands...more retail stores for brands like Juicy Couture and Kate Spade... up to 800 job cuts this year...and new blood from Nike to lead a re-worked wholesale arm. Is Liz a turnaround story?
Liz Claiborne Chief Executive William McComb joins the guys for this conversation. Here are excerpts from what was said.
Are you looking to make the company younger?
“No,” says McComb. “The strategy we laid out Wednesday involves honing the portfolio to 4 major brands that have big growth potential." He adds "To get there it will require an investment in marketing and we couldn’t do it with a portfolio of 36 brands.”
What brands are you going to cultivate?
“Kate Spade, Lucky Brand Jeans, Juicy Couture and Mexx,” says McComb.
How are you dedicating the marketing dollars?
“The 4 brands all have retail stores,” says McComb. “The real strategy behind those 4 brands is to pour dollars into building the brand equity and controlling the destiny of the brand by building out the retail concepts… which are already proving to be successful”.
Is there a buyer for the brands you want to get rid of?
“I’ve been taking calls since I first indicated the possibility of some divestitures,” says McComb. “And there are strategic buyers and financial buyers for the brands… Some are retailers, some own and market brands such as these and others are financial buyers?”
How much are they worth?
“We haven’t disclosed how much we think they’re worth,” answers McComb. “But any of the brands have wonderful opportunities."
What kind of time frame are you talking about?
“We expect to (divest the other brands) by Q2 of ’08,” says McComb
Do you still feel a squeeze from department stores?
“On the upper end (stores such as) Saks (SKS) and Nordstrom (JWN) which carry Kate Spade and Juicy Couture .. they’re going to continue to be growth partners for us,” says McComb. “Where we’ve gotten the squeeze is down in the moderate and mid-tier range of brands.”
“An example is the Liz Claiborne brand,” explains McComb.
Upon completion will you rename the company?
“A big part of the strategy includes maintaining the Liz Claiborne brand which delivers over $2 billion in retail sales. (Once we can stabilize the brand) that will throw off a lot of cash that will help us with the overall strategy, ” explains McComb.
Is True Religion (TRLG) and $300 jeans on your radar?
“I think it’s a reflection of the upside that premium denim has. The difference is Lucky has gone into lifestyle, ” says McComb.
Dylan asks Fast Money Retail Analyst Jeff Macke what he thinks of this stock?
Jeff Macke says it’s a smart plan and thinks LIZ a good long term play.
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Trader disclosure: On July 11th 2007, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders. Macke Owns (EMC), (DIS), Najarian Owns (DNDN), (IMMR); Bolling Owns (ICE), (NMX), (DIS), (XOM), Gold, Silver, Copper, Corn; CNBC Is A Service Of NBC Universal And Dow Jones; NBC Universal Is The Parent Company Of CNBC