Ex-president of catalog retailer to take the helm at London Fog New CEO left job at J. Crew in June


Arnold P. Cohen, former president of J. Crew catalog retailer, has been appointed the chairman and chief executive of London Fog Corp., the Eldersburg-based maker of raincoat and outerwear said yesterday.

"What I hope to bring is a fresh approach," Mr. Cohen said yesterday from his home in Westport, Conn. "I try to be a catalyst rather than a maven."

Merrill Lynch Capital Partners, which owns 90 percent of London Fog stock, selected Mr. Cohen to head the company, which has about $350 million in annual sales and 3,500 employees -- 1,600 of them in Maryland.

The 37-year-old Mr. Cohen was president and chief operating officer of J. Crew Group Inc., a leading catalog retailer of casual clothing for men and women. When he left that job in June, he was discussing his new positions with London Fog, he said.

Mr. Cohen will take his new position in September. But he will maintain his residence in Westport, where his wife and three sons live. He said he will spend about two days in Maryland each week, two days in the New York area and one or two days on the road.

His career started at Bloomingdales in 1979, where he became divisional merchandise manager of women's accessories at the department store in 1984.

A year later, he was recruited by Gucci America as vice president and chief merchandising officer. He was selected by J. Crew as president and chief operating officer in 1988.

Mr. Cohen started J. Crew's retail store business, building it to 55 stores with $100 million in annual sales.

"I'm a very driven person," he said. Mr. Cohen said his typical day lasts from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m, and in 5 1/2 years at J. Crew, he took just four weeks of vacation.

Mr. Cohen said it was a "distinct possibility" that London Fog would start a catalog operation and would consider possible acquisitions. He also said he wants to increase the company's community involvement.

"If you are a better citizen, you get better people to work for you," he said.

London Fog has been without a chairman and chief executive since April when Mark H. Lieberman resigned.

Mr. Lieberman led a $178 million leveraged buyout of Londontown Corp. in 1988 from St. Louis-based Interco Inc. The chief equity holder in that deal, GE Capital Corp., later sold its stake in the company to Merrill Lynch Capital in a deal valued at $280 million.

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