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Gerson leaving Reef after short stay

By Tiffany Montgomery
July 27, 2010 6:10 AM

Jim Gerson is leaving Reef to become president of Warnaco Group's swimwear division. He will be responsible for all aspects of the Speedo brand.

Jim served as president of Reef for just over a year, replacing John Wilson. His last day at Reef is Friday.

Jim is a long time VF executive, and worked for the company since 1986. His experience includes working with VF's Jantzen and Tommy Hilfiger swimwear lines, and top roles at The North Face.

Jim's departure comes on the heels of Steve Murray leaving his role in March as president of VF's Action Sports Coalition to become president of the Urban Outfitters brand.

in June 2009, Michael Egeck, the president of VF's Contemporary Brand Coalition, departed. He was recently named president of True Religion Apparel.

Jim Gerson had done a lot of work with Reef on changing the brand's seasonal calendars, restructuring the company's sales force and other big initiatives. Click here to read an interview with Jim about his Reef strategy.

After Steve Murray's departure from VF, Jim reported directly to VF CEO Eric Wiseman.

Cindy Knoebel, VF Vice President of Financial and Corporate Communications, told me this morning that the company is working on a succession plan for Jim at Reef and expects to have a decision in the near future.

In the meantime, Reef VP and CFO Roger Spatz will run the company, Reef Vice President of Marketing Kevin Flanagan said.

Kevin also told me this morning that he spoke with Wiseman on Friday, and Wiseman was very upbeat and in no rush to name a replacement, and instead wants to look for candidates within the framework of a deliberate and thoughful process.

Kevin said Wiseman expressed confidence in the brand, which is currently performing well at retail and with consumers.

Reef and VF have been investing in the brand this year with 18 new buildouts in core stores and and by hiring about eight new employees in the past three months, Kevin said. The company is also about to invest in increasing its social media presence.

Here is the release from Warnaco:

Warnaco Names Jim Gerson President, Swimwear

NEW YORK, Jul 26, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The Warnaco Group, Inc. (NYSE: WRC) today announced the appointment of James B. Gerson as President of its Swimwear division. Mr. Gerson will oversee all aspects of the Speedo(R) and Calvin Klein(R) Swimwear businesses and will report directly to Helen McCluskey, Group President, Intimate Apparel and Swimwear. He will be based out of the Warnaco Swimwear Group's headquarters in Los Angeles, CA.

Jim joins Warnaco from V.F. Corporation, where he most recently served as President of Reef. Previously, he spent eight years with The North Face brand, where he held increasingly senior leadership positions in Research, Design and Development. In addition, he spent more than a decade concentrating on Swimwear, beginning his tenure with V.F. Corp. focused on Jantzen Swimwear.

"We are delighted to welcome Jim to the Warnaco Swimwear Group," commented Helen McCluskey. "His rich background in swimwear and experience in product design, merchandising and general brand management complement our existing team and will serve us well as we aim to extend our leadership position in Speedo and maximize the global growth opportunities for our Calvin Klein Swim business."

About Warnaco

The Warnaco Group, Inc., headquartered in New York, is a leading global apparel company engaged in the business of designing, sourcing, marketing and selling men's, women's and children's sportswear and accessories, intimate apparel, and swimwear under such owned and licensed brands as Calvin Klein(R), Speedo(R), Chaps(R), and Warner's(R) and Olga(R).



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