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Kenneth Cole chief executive steps down as losses are cut

American contemporary brand and retailer Kenneth Cole’s chief executive officer Jill Granoff has resigned, as the company announced it had significantly narrowed its losses in the fourth quarter.

Granoff has left her role with immediate effect after three years and has also resigned as a director. Kenneth Cole, chairman and chief creative officer, will serve as interim chief executive officer. Paul Blum, who served as president from 2002 to 2006 will return to the company to assume the role of vice chairman.

The announcement came on the same day as the company reported a loss of $2.7m (£1.7m) for the fourth quarter to December 31 compared with a loss of $52m (£31.9m) the year before. Revenue rose 10.5% to $120.8m (£74m)for the quarter, up from $109.4m (£67.1m).

Full year revenues also shot up, with an 11.4% increase to $457.3m (£280.4m) and was due to increases in all three of the company’s segments, wholesale, consumer direct and licensing.

Earnings for the full year grew to $2.1m (£1.3m) compared to a loss of $63.2m (£38.8m) the year before. The growth was due to an 18.9% increase in licensing, a 16% increase in consumer direct revenues and a 1% increase in wholesale revenues. The growth in sales from consumer direct was driven by clearance activities associated with store closings.

During the year the company shut eight of its underperforming stores and has since closed seven stores in 2011. It plans to close a further two in the first half of this year, taking its total number of stores to 17.

David Edelman, chief financial officer, said: “We believe that our business is now positioned to take advantage of significant untapped opportunities for growth.

“We have closed our underperforming stores, put new leadership in place and, once the near-term impact of our decision to close underperforming stores is behind us, we expect to see a financial benefit that far outweighs these short-term costs.”

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