Archive for the ‘William McComb’ Category

QVC In-House Designer Isaac Mizrahi’s Rising Star Was Tarnished By Flop At Liz Claiborne, Wall Street Journal Reports

August 16, 2010

QVC has been boasting about Liz Claiborne’s line coming to the network, and keeps extolling the designer it brought over from there. But maybe it shouldn’t be, if you believe a Page One story in The Wall Street Journal Monday

Headlined “Targeting Younger Buyers, Liz Claiborne Hits A Snag,” the piece chronicles the missteps of Liz Claiborne CEO William McComb. Once the top vendor in U.S. department stores, as of this month Liz Claiborne will now only be available at JC Penney and QVC after a falling out with its top client, Macy’s.

We wrote about this deal when it was announced last year. Ironically, The Journal doesn’t even mention the QVC part of the pact.

And the story is rather damning when it comes to Mizrahi, who is now QVC’s in-house lifestyle designer, doing everything from clothes to accessories to housewares and bedding.

The Journal blames Mizrahi with putting the final nail in the coffin of McComb’s and Liz Claiborne’s rocky relationship with its most important customer, Macy’s.

“In an effort to attract a younger audience, Mr. McComb decided to focus on the company’s contemporary brands with the most potential, including Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand Jeans and Mexx,” The Journal wrote.

“But he made a series of strategic blunders including hiring a star designer, Isaac Mizrahi, at a hefty salary and veering away from the Liz Claiborne brand’s trademark career apparel. He sold, discontinued or licensed several boomer brands—including Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman and Sigrid Olsen—that weren’t performing well but represented major sales volume.”

A Columbia Business school prof tells the financial broadsheet that this realignment was “a disaster waiting to happen.”

McComb hired Mizrahi away from Target in 2008 as part of his effort to relanch the Liz Claiborne Line.

Mizrahi got a nice package, The Journal reported: a five-year contract worth $6 million a year; his entire 25-person design team came with him; and Claiborne agreed to foot the bill for fashion shows for Mizrahi’s personal high-end brand for roughly $1 million a season.

Macy’s executives expressed concern that Mizrahi’s funky designs wouldn’t appeal to Liz Claiborne’s core customers, working women, and it was right.

“Mr. Mizrahi’s designs hit stores in January 2009, generating media buzz and positive reviews from fashion critics,” The Journal wrote. “Michelle Obama was photographed in one of his outfits and Vogue ran a profile of Mr. Mizrahi.”

But the line flopped, shunned by Claiborne’s regular customers and hindered by the recession.

Macy’s dumped the line, and last October McComb announced Liz Claiborne’s exclusive deal with QVC and JC Penney, as well as Mizrahi’s move to QVC.

Mizrahi declined to comment for The Journal piece.

As we’ve said before, we loved Mizrahi’s Target clothes. At QVC, he’s lost his mojo. He really disappointed us.

New York Post Paints QVC’s New Design Star Isaac Mizrahi As More Than A Bit Bitchy

February 24, 2010

The New York Post is offering up some dish on QVC’s new in-house designer, Isaac Mizrahi. And it doesn’t match the folksy, likeable persona that he shows viewers on QVC.

The dirt comes in the Post’s story Wednesday about William McComb, the relatively new CEO of Liz Claiborne, Mizrahi’s primary roost before his switch to soup-to-nuts, housewares-to-clothing, designer for QVC. McComb has had his hands full at Liz Claiborne, with the founders of its pricey Juicy Couture line storming out a month ago.

The Post says the Juicy Couture folk were irked that profits from their company were being used to pay for Mizrahi to rejuvenate the Liz Claiborne line. The Juicy girls were also miffed that their brand’s financial success was essentially footing the bill for Claiborne to bring “Project Runway” star Tim Gunn on board as its chief creative officer, whatever that title means.

Then the Post nails Mizrahi. It says that the curly-topped designer was a big “headache” to McComb, “delivering a giant flop with an overly trendy relaunch of Liz Claiborne last spring.”

The Post also claims that Mizrahi was none too happy about Gunn’s appearance on the scene, “complaining that Gunn was getting too much attention touring shopping malls and shilling for the label.”

So Liz Claiborne put the kibosh on Gunn’s appearances, according to the Post. But despite his alleged griping about Gunn, Mizrahi himself didn’t want to go out and do the Claiborne dog-and-pony shows for the unwashed masses at the nation’s new town squares, malls.

“It was like pulling teeth” to get Mizrahi to do public appearances for Claiborne, a source told the Post.

So which is it? Is Isaac just a down-to-earth, touchy-feely, likable and talented guy from Brooklyn, a prima donna that is a pain in the butt to work with, or both?

We’ll be like Fox News Channel (perish the thought, we’d rather burn in hell), and let you decide.

New York Post Claims Isaac Mizrahi’s Liz Claiborne Line Was ‘Flop,’ As The Designer Heads To QVC

November 5, 2009

True to tabloid form, the New Yotk Post Thursday headlined its story about Liz Claiborne’s dismal third-quarter earnings “Liz Whiz Fizzles: Fashion Boss Stung by Mizrahi’s $6M-a-year flop.”

The failed “Whiz” is Liz Claiborne CEO William McComb. The Post notes that since McComb came to the company, its stock has dropped from $43 to $5 and change.

And there is photo illustration that only the Post would do. They put McComb’s head on the body of man wearing a sleeveless hoody, being arrested by two cops. The cutline says “Its time for Liz Claiborne to call the fashion police.” That illustration is just in the print paper, not online.

The Post reports that Isaac Mizrahi, who left Target to be part of Liz Claiborne’s team, has not done well with his special line for the women’s apparel maker. The tabloid said Mizrahi was making $6 million a year at Target, but that he is “sucking financial wind” at Liz Claiborne.

The Post failed to mention that Liz Claiborne has struck a deal for Mizrahi to do a line of premium clothes and other goods for QVC. The home shopping channel expects the Mizrahi goods to be one of its biggest, if not its biggest, sellers.

Liz Claiborne is also making JCPenney the exclusive retailer for most of its lines.

Red, As In Ink, Was Liz Claiborne’s Color In Third Quarter, But It Expects QVC And Isaac Mizrahi To Come To The Rescue Next Year

November 4, 2009

It is not a pretty picture for Liz Claiborne, which reported dismal third-quarter earnings Wednesday. It was lots and lots of red ink, but CEO William McComb expects the company’s new deal with QVC to bring it to profitability next year.

To start off, Liz Claiborne’s net sales from continuing operations for the third quarter were $770 million, a decrease of $245 million, or 24.2 percent, from the comparable 2008 period.

There are a lot of fancy numbers here, an accountant’s wet dream, and we’ll give them to you at the end. But the bottom line is that Liz Claiborne has serious financial troubles, and has very high expections for its new pact with QVC and JCPenney.

Beginning this fall, the Liz Claiborne and Claiborne brands will be sold exclusively at JCPenney and the Liz Claiborne New York brand designed by Isaac Mizrahi will be available at QVC.

Mizrahi, who was such a success at Target, is doing a premium line of clothes and other goods for QVC. QVC expects the Mizrahi merchandise to become one its biggest lines, perhaps it’s biggest.

And it looks like Liz Claiborne is banking on QVC, and the success of the Mizrahi line, to bail out the company and turn its fortunes around.

“Fourth quarter to date, we are posting significantly improved comparable store sales results compared to the year to date trend as we have seen solid execution overall on the merchandising initiatives we outlined on our August call,” McComb said in a prepared statement. “Our recently announced licensing agreements with JC Penney and QVC will result in a dramatic shift in profitability for the Liz Claiborne brand wholesale business from a meaningful loss in 2009 to a profit in 2010.”

A quick FYI for cable-industry folk: USA Network founder Kay Koplovitz is chairman of Liz Claiborne.

Here are all the adjusted and non-adjusted numbers, and the entire press release here for real masochists. Translate the thing into English and here’s what it means: Liz Claiborne is bleeding lots of red ink, with lots of losses, adjusted numbers or non-adjusted numbers.

For the first nine months this year, the women’s clothier recorded an operating loss of $199 million compared to an operating loss of $18 million in 2008. Adjusted operating loss in the first nine months $121 million compared to adjusted operating income of $137 million last year.

The company recorded a loss from continuing operations in the first nine months of 2009 of $251 million, or $2.67 per share, compared to a loss from continuing operations in 2008 of $31 million, or 33 cents a share.

Adjusted loss per share from continuing operations in the first nine months was $1.28 compared to adjusted diluted EPS from continuing operations of 83 cents last year. Net sales from continuing operations for the first nine months were $2.233 billion, a decrease of $841 million, or 27.4 per cent, from the comparable 2008 period.

The adjusted results for the third quarter and first nine months of 2009 and 2008 exclude the impact of expenses incurred in connection with Liz Claiborne’s streamlining and brand-exiting activities and non-cash goodwill and trademark impairment charges.

“The Company believes that the adjusted results for the third quarter and first nine months of 2009 and 2008 represent a more meaningful presentation of its historical operations and financial performance since these results provide period to period comparisons that are consistent and more easily understood,” Liz Claiborne said in its press release.

And McComb had his own statement.

“Our financial results in the third quarter reflect some early signs of turning around underperforming businesses,” he said. “We reduced our adjusted operating loss by $12 million compared to the second quarter as comparable store sales in our key retail formats were better overall compared with the outlook we provided on our August call, resulting in decreases of 13 percent at Juicy Couture, 16 percent at Lucky Brand, 3 per cent at Kate Spade, 13 percent at Mexx and 13 per cent n the U.S. Liz Claiborne outlets.”

Net sales from continuing operations for the third quarter were $770 million, a decrease of $245 million, or 24.2 percent from the third quarter of 2008, primarily due to decreases in the International-Based Direct Brands and Partnered Brands segments. The impact of changes in foreign currency exchange rates in international businesses decreased net sales by $12 million, or 1.2 percent.

The third-quarter operating loss was $60 million compared to an operating income of $16 million in the third quarter of 2008, including $27 million of expenses associated with streamlining and brand-exiting activities in the third quarter, compared to $36 million in the third quarter last year.

Adjusted operating loss in the third quarter was $33 million compared to adjusted operating income of $62 million in 2008. The impact of changes in foreign currency exchange rates in our international businesses reduced operating loss by $2 million during the quarter.

Loss from continuing operations in the third quarter of 2009 was $88 million, compared to a loss from continuing operations in the third quarter last year of $9 million.

Net loss in the third quarter of $91 million, inclusive of losses related to discontinued operations of $3 million, compared to a net loss of $69 million, inclusive of losses related to discontinued operations of $59 million in the third quarter a year ago.

Wall Street Journal Chronicles The Challenges Of Liz Claiborne Honcho William McComb, Who Struck Deal For Isaac Mizrahi To Come To QVC

November 3, 2009

The Liz Claiborne executive who just did a major deal for QVC to partner with designer Isaac Mizrahi and also carry the Liz Claiborne New York line comes under scrutiny by The Wall Street Journal Tuesday. And it isn’t pretty.

The story headlined, “Claiborne CEO Hangs On,” talks about Liz Claiborne CEO William McComb, and how the company has suffered seven consecutive quarterly losses on his watch. Liz Claiborne reports its quarterly earnings Wednesday.

McComb was responsible for recruiting Mizrahi, fresh from his success at Target, to come to Liz Claiborne as creatice director. But the women’s clothing maker still was seeing ink.

In October, Liz Claiborne officially announced a major deal to make JCPenney its sole bricks-and-mortar retailer. As part of that announcement, Liz Claiborne also said that Mizrahi would be doing a line of premium apparel, accessories and home products for QVC, and that the home shopping network would also be selling the Liz Claiborne New York line.

McComb is on the hot seat to turn Liz Claiborne around.

As an aside, The Journal quotes Kay Koplovitz, Liz Claiborne’s chairman. We know Koplovitz, and interviewed her, from our cable-reporting tenure. She is a cable pioneer who founded USA Network, and later Sci Fi Channel (recently renamed the silly Syfy).

We didn’t realize that Koplovitz, who left USA Network in 1998, was at Liz Claiborne. In the cable world, she was known as a tough-as-nails executive.