Liz Claiborne to Cut 500 Jobs

The apparel company plans to realign its brands with a more centralized sales approach.
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Liz Claiborne

(LIZ)

said Tuesday it plans to cut 4% of its workforce and close 20 stores as part of a plan to streamline operations toward a more centralized sales approach.

The apparel company will eliminate 500 jobs, with "significant" staff reductions at more senior levels of the organization. The company said it is realigning its business to better manage its many brands, which include Juicy Couture, Ellen Tracy, Sigrid Olsen and the company's namesake.

Brands will now be grouped according to consumer offerings and channels, with shared sales functions within each group. Previously, these functions were organized by brands.

"In an increasingly competitive marketplace, these changes will make us a nimbler, more flexible organization that is closer to our customers and better positioned to optimize our assets and increase profitability and shareholder value," said Chairman and CEO Paul Charron in a statement.

The moves are expected to yield annual savings of $60 million to $65 million, before increased investments in certain brands targeted as "high growth," such as the trendy Juicy Couture and Lucky. Liz Claiborne also expects charges of up to $60 million, mostly in the first half of this year.

The company plans to update its 2006 guidance when it releases fourth-quarter results on March 1.