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It was a great year to be an executive recruiter. High-level changes in the design and executive suites were rampant in 2006, a year that marked the changing of the guard at such giants as Nike, Liz Claiborne, Levi, Strauss, Burberry, Chloé, Gucci and Nina Ricci.
Here's a look at some of the year's biggest moves.
• At Nike, chief executive William D. Perez stepped down in January after 13 months on the job. Perez, previously ceo of S.C. Johnson, was replaced by 27-year Nike veteran Mark Parker. At the time of the announcement, Philip Knight, Nike chairman, said, "It was very difficult for Bill to come in here after 34 years at a packaged-goods company and get his arms around this place. There was too much of a difference in industries, companies and brands at the end of the day."
Three months later, Mindy Grossman also stepped down as Nike's global vice president of apparel to become ceo of retailing at Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp.
• In April, St. John ceo Richard Cohen abruptly left the Irvine, Calif.-based maker after a troubled 18-month tenure marked by sliding sales, a radical and ill-received change in the product and the departure of many employees. St. John board member Philip B. Miller, former chairman and ceo of Saks Fifth Avenue, was named interim ceo. Soon after Cohen's departure, creative director Tim Gardner left the company, and Marie Gray returned in a design consultant role, as did designer Maria D. Lopez.
• Fred Gehring, former ceo of Tommy Hilfiger Europe, took over the helm of Tommy Hilfiger Corp. following Apax Partners' $1.6 billion acquisition of the $1.7 billion apparel firm. His goal is to rebuild the company's struggling U.S. wholesale business, while continuing its fast-track growth overseas. David Dyer, president and ceo of Hilfiger, left the firm after the acquisition was completed.
• Angela Ahrendts took over as Burberry ceo in July, succeeding Rose Marie Bravo. Ahrendts actually joined Burberry at the start of the year and shadowed Bravo in her role before assuming the position. The new chief then laid out a roadmap for Burberry's future: ramping up retail presence in the U.S., boosting the accessories business and leveraging the brand name worldwide.