When Should a Brand Sell? Liz Claiborne's CEO Offers Insight

As a follow up to today’s piece in Women’s Wear Daily [subscription required] on whether the founders of contemporary brands should sell or go it alone, The High Low spoke with Liz Claiborne Inc. CEO William L. McComb for further insight.

The High Low: When and why should a brand sell?

William L. McComb: A brand should sell for three reasons. First, it has to be a brand that can truly be extended beyond its core, initial consumer. Second, the founders must be willing to cede elements of control to realize this expansionary vision. Third, the founders need to find a strategic partner, whether it’s an apparel company or an investor, who shares their vision.

THL: How can a founder know for sure if her or his brand has the potential to “go big?”

WLM: You can never know for sure. You look at growth rates, you look at customer segments, you look at trends, and you make a call.

THL: Juicy Co-founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor talked about why they left Liz Claiborne Inc. Any comments?

WLM: Yes. First off, Pam and Gela are geniuses, and they created true magic at Juicy. Yet even when you’re as talented as Pam and Gela, all founders need to remember astronomical growth rates inevitably slow, and that’s when your creativity and partnership with management will face their toughest tests.

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