U.S. News

Jones Apparel CEO Resigns; Company Names Replacement


Jones Apparel Groupsaid that Chief Executive Peter Boneparth had resigned, and that Wesley Card, the company's chief financial officer and chief operating officer, would replace him immediately.

Jones , whose shares rose more than 1%, also announced the hiring of a new CFO.

Earlier this year, the owner of shoes and accessories brands such as Jones New York, Nine West and Gloria Vanderbilt said that it would not renew Boneparth's contract, which was set to expire on March 31, 2009.

"With the pending sale of Barneys New York and the previously announced decision to exit or sell certain moderate sportswear businesses, Peter (Boneparth) and the board agreed that this was an appropriate time to transition our leadership," Sidney Kimmel, the company's founder and chairman, said in a statement.

UBS analyst Jeffrey Edelman said the timing of Boneparth's departure was a surprise, especially considering the various positive initiatives under way at the company, including the profitable sale of its Barneys luxury department-store chain.

Last month Jones, which also owns Barneys New York, said it would sell the luxury department store chain for $825 million to a Dubai-owned private equity firm while considering other offers for the chain or the entire company.

Under that deal with Istithmar, Jones can weigh other offers made for Barneys by July 22, and it can explore bids for the whole company through August 11.

Edelman said he believed the company's fundamentals remain strong and that a new face at the helm could be just the lift the stock requires.

"Boneparth had inherited an under-managed company for which he was held responsible," Edelman said in a research note. "His restructuring and streamlining strategies, which began several years prior, are finally beginning to bear fruit. But investors, eager for immediate results, seemed unimpressed by his leadership."

Jones, whose shares are down nearly 9% from a year ago, had put itself up for sale last year, but failed to find a buyer. It agreed to sell Barneys after several months of negotiations.

In May the company said it had decided to exit or sell some of its moderately priced product lines by year-end amid stiff competition from consolidating department stores that are strongly promoting their own private brands.

Earlier this week, rival Liz Claiborne said it was exploring options for 16 of its brands, which have also been hurt by pullbacks at department stores.

Jones said Thursday that John McClain, most recently the chief accounting officer of Avis Budget Group would become chief financial officer as of July 16.

Incoming CEO Card, who is 59, is joining Jones' board of directors.

The company's shares were up 40 cents, or 1.4%, at $28.47 on the New York Stock Exchange.