Karen Murray
by Stephen Garner

Karen MurraySequential Brands Group, Inc. has announced that Karen Murray has been appointed chief executive officer of the company.  Murray has also been appointed to serve as a director of the company.  A strong operator who has a depth of management and industry experience, she was most recently president of VF Sportswear, a wholly owned subsidiary of VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel makers. Murray is replacing Yehuda Shmidman, who is stepping down from his position at the company and as a member of the Board of Directors.

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.

“Karen Murray has outstanding leadership skills and industry experience and she has demonstrated her ability to activate and grow successful brands,” says Bill Sweedler, chairman of the Board. “We are excited to have an executive of Karen’s caliber join and lead our team at Sequential to grow with us. I have admired her and watched her thrive in her career, and I am pleased that we will be able to work together.”

Interesting aside: Bill Sweedler and Karen Murray first met 32 years ago when Murray went to work for Gant and Sweedler’s dad was president of the company. She was about 20, he was 10, but they both remember meeting!

“From a board perspective, we felt the next phase of our company development required a different skill set than what Yehuda brought to us these past four years,” Sweedler tells MR. “Karen’s background– her strong knowledge of operations, of how business is run, of inventory and receivables—is perfect for our needs. Plus she has the best background for understanding our partners’ businesses and the nuances of relationships both wholesale and retail. She has already worked with and grown businesses for most of our retail customers and intrinsically understands how businesses evolve. Most importantly, her leadership capabilities are legendary: she is the perfect person to motivate our terrific team and lead in a new way.”

“I’m very excited about optimizing the potential of these great brands,” adds Murray. “And while Sequential is often viewed as just that–a bunch of brands–my goal is to build a culture for this company that’s bigger than the brands themselves. In addition to the well-known names like Martha Stewart, Joe’s Jeans, William Rast, Jessica Simpson, etc., I’m excited about the untapped potential of those with different distribution: Avia, And1, Gaiam (which is in 38,000 doors!) and several of the footwear brands. I look forward to discovering and developing new opportunities.”