by Stephen Garner
Karen Murray
Karen Murray

Sequential Brands Group has announced that Karen Murray has stepped down as director and chief executive officer of the company.

Murray joined Sequential in March 2017 as director and chief executive officer of the company. Prior to joining Sequential, Murray was the president of VF Sportswear, where she oversaw the $1.2 billion global brand, Nautica, as well as Kipling. She joined VF Sportswear, in 2007 as president of its Nautica Men’s Sportswear and Nautica Jeans Company businesses and the following year, she was appointed president of VF Sportswear. Murray began her career at Gant, where she remained for nine years before transitioning to Liz Claiborne. She assumed many different roles throughout her tenure at Claiborne, including president from 1998 to 2007.

The company board has begun a search for her replacement. Murray will continue to serve as a senior advisor for the company and assist the company in strategic opportunities in a new role.

Chad Wagenheim, executive vice president of strategic development and operations, has also been promoted to president and will assist the Sequential Brands Group during this transition period.

“I’m looking forward to serving as president and assisting Sequential during this transformative time,” says Wagenheim. “We have a strong portfolio of brands, blue-chip base of licensees and solid lender relationships. With our recently-restructured lending agreement and no upcoming debt maturities, we are fully focused on executing against our plan to drive growth and right-size our expense structure given the current size of the company.”

The move comes as the company – which owns such brands as Joe’s Jeans, William Rast, and Caribbean Joe – announces its Board of Directors has begun a review of strategic alternatives focused on maximizing shareholder value. Potential options include the divestiture of one or more existing brands, the acquisition of one or more new brands and a stock buyback program. The Board has engaged Stifel to serve as its exclusive financial advisor to assist in this process.

“After having received unsolicited interest for several of our brands from multiple parties, Sequential’s Board of Directors is engaging in this formal process to ensure that we are evaluating all alternatives to best further the interest of our shareholders,” says William Sweedler, chairman of Sequential Brands Group.

Earlier this year, Sequential Brands Group sold the Martha Stewart brand to Marquee Brands for $175 million.