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Warnaco’s Gromek Gets Creative for Intimates Exec Search

Warnaco Group’s president and ceo said he is seeking an “exceptional” individual to succeed Tom Wyatt as president of Intimate Apparel.

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New York — Wanted: top business executive with varied background and creative flair. Experience in bras and panties not a requirement.

Joseph R. Gromek, president and chief executive officer of The Warnaco Group, who is hunting for a successor to Tom Wyatt as president of Warnaco’s intimate apparel division, said Thursday he is seeking an “exceptional” individual who can take Warnaco’s intimate apparel business to a higher level of sales and operating revenues.

“I am looking for someone with a diversified background,’’ said Gromek, president and ceo of Brooks Bros. from 1995 to 2002, who also has worked in merchandising at Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. “Tom Wyatt had a very interesting background in both the wholesale and retail businesses.”

Gromek didn’t rule out top retail executives, saying the ideal candidate may have expertise in other fields such as sportswear, ready-to-wear, accessories or even textiles.

The Warnaco ceo has consistently sought creative talent to lend a fresh eye to a specific business, according to market sources. In April, Frank Tworecke, 57, was named group president of the sportswear division, overseeing three key units: Calvin Klein Jeans, Calvin Klein Underwear and Chaps.

Tworecke was president and chief operating officer of Bob-Ton Stores, and before that, president and chief operating officer of Jos. A. Banks.

Market sources said Gromek might make a choice that is outside the box because he typically does not act defensively, which can lead to a retailer like Tworecke, who didn’t necessarily fit the mold of a divisional president of sportswear and underwear.

Wyatt’s job will be much sought-after, with such desirable labels as JLo Lingerie by Jennifer Lopez and Lejaby Rose involved, industry officials said. There appears to be a short list of executives with backgrounds in intimate apparel, mainly because there are few top businesspeople in such a highly specialized field. One particular difficulty may be the lack of enthusiasm of former Warnaco executives to return. Some have said privately they would not fit into the company’s new culture under Gromek.

According to industry executives and sources, potential contenders from the intimate apparel industry for Wyatt’s post might include:
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