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Connect, December 2011 - Alumni: Manny Chirico, PVH Corp - EY - United States

Manny Chirico, PVH Corp.Transforming a global powerhouse

Manny Chirico, PVH Corp
  Manny Chirico  
  Current position:
CEO of PVH Corp.
  Last EY office:
New York, New York
  Born in:
Bronx, New York
  Board/community involvement:
Director of Dick's Sporting Goods and the American Apparel & Footware Association
  Career highlights:
Led PVH's partnership with Save Ellis Island and the National Park Service to fund restoration of the island's historic buildings
  Most recent read:
Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva; Willie Mays, The Life, The Legend by James S. Hirsch

Within the fashion industry, consumer loyalty is hard to come by. To learn the secret, there is no better teacher than Ernst & Young alum Emanuel (Manny) Chirico, CEO of PVH Corp., formerly Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation. With its acquisitions of Calvin Klein in 2003 and Tommy Hilfiger in 2010, PVH has grown to become one of the world’s largest apparel companies. Through adept use of social media, PVH reaches younger consumers across borders.

Manny Chirico was introduced to the apparel business in the Ernst & Young LLP New York office, where he worked for 14 years. Chirico thrived, with a deep appreciation for the people he worked with. “Despite the size of the firm, I always felt that there was a focus on my career, on me as a person.”

Chirico’s counselor for several years, (former partner) John Labarca, was an important and influential role model: “Everyone looked up to John.”

Another partner, Ken Reiss (retired), also had a significant impact on Chirico as he developed his professional perspective. “Ken impressed upon me the value of moving beyond the technical aspects of the work to really understand the client’s business and to connect with the client. And Ken was the one who pushed me to realize my potential.”

After serving clients in a variety of industries, including financial services, Chirico discovered the retail and apparel business, and he was hooked for life. At the time, media and entertainment and financial services were widely considered the most exciting industries.

But Chirico followed his passion. Eventually, Chirico advanced to become Partner-in-Charge of the Retail Apparel Group. He joined PVH in 1993 as controller and vice president and assumed progressively more responsible roles, including CFO, President and COO. He was named CEO in 2006.

A virtual marketing machine

PVH’s roots go back to the late 19th century, when its founders sold shirts to Pennsylvania miners. It’s not an overstatement to say that Chirico has led a transformation of this company, which had a traditional, middle-aged image. When he joined, all revenues and profits emanated from the domestic market — an outdated model even then, according to Chirico.

Throughout the 1990s, the company restructured operations and repositioned heritage brands such as Bass and ARROW.

When PVH acquired Calvin Klein in 2003, the market was skeptical as to whether Calvin, a world-class fashion brand, would be a good fit with PVH. To complete the deal, PVH had to take on significant debt and bring in a private equity company to take a 40% stake. It was a courageous and visionary move.

PVH looked to the Calvin Klein organization as a model of marketing finesse. The parent company increased Calvin’s marketing budget substantially and took lessons from the brand on how to reach young customers — whether they lived in Hong Kong or Austin, Texas.

Chirico acknowledges the demise of the national brand and the emergence of global brands: “Today, you’re either a global brand or you’re not a brand at all.” That sentiment is echoed in the PVH tagline: “We grow powerful global lifestyle brands.”

With the acquisitions of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, PVH became a force on the global fashion stage. Today, Calvin and Tommy represent 75% of the company’s sales. And because of the brands’ global popularity, the company’s sales — more than US$5 billion — are nearly split between US and international markets.

PVH continues to follow a healthy growth trajectory through a strategic combination of wholesale, retail and licensing operations across North America, Europe and Asia.

A tradition of giving back

Two years ago, in the midst of the global recession, PVH issued its first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report. CSR is a long-standing tradition at PVH. The company is intent on formal reporting and measures its progress across the various aspects of CSR: workplace, human rights, community, environment and values at work. That commitment starts with CEO Chirico.

He points to the specific challenges for the fashion industry in the realm of corporate citizenship, such as product cost inflation throughout the supply chain and in raw materials. He explains that PVH works to find sustainable solutions to these and other challenges.

And he is confident that the company’s CSR commitment provides a competitive advantage. Corporate Responsibility magazine includes PVH in its list of “100 Best Corporate Citizens.”
There are many examples of PVH corporate citizenship initiatives that are closely linked with its core fashion business. Consider the following:

  • PVH is engaged in promoting fair labor conditions throughout the supply chain in places such as India.
  • The company participates in Better Works Vietnam, which raises the awareness of health and safety in the apparel sector.
  • Closer to home, ARROW, a PVH brand, partnered with the National Park Service and Save Ellis Island to further advance the campaign to help rescue the historic buildings on Ellis Island.

Do what you love

As someone who has taken his own advice, Chirico counsels young people to take the time to discover a vocation. “Once that happens, ideas fall into place for your career and what you want to do.”

As professionals assume more work responsibility in their careers, Chirico advises them not to lose sight of work-life balance — while a busy executive is not going to make every baseball game or school play, he says it’s important to make the ones that matter.

“If you don’t balance your life, what are you making all these sacrifices for?” he asks. “It’s all about making choices about how you spend your time.”

Chirico has steadfastly applied this approach to his own life. He and his wife, Joanne, recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. They have three sons: Dominic, a financial analyst at Calvin Klein (and fellow EY alum); Michael, a successful entrepreneur and amateur UFC fighter; and Vincent, a student at Fordham University.

While a busy executive is not going to make every baseball game or school play, it’s important to make the ones that matter. “It’s all about making choices about how you spend your time.”
“Today, you’re either a global brand or you’re not a brand at all.” That sentiment is echoed in the PVH tagline: “We grow powerful global lifestyle brands.”

Tuning in: the ck one digital initiative

While PVH Corp. still deploys print, outdoor and television advertising, digital channels are the most prominent media for raising brand awareness, especially among youth. For example, in 2010, the web was the launching pad for a new lifestyle brand, ck one. Scripted in 11 languages, the introduction of ck one jeanswear, swimwear and underwear marked PVH’s largest digital marketing initiative.

Using social media, the campaign invited consumers to personally experience the brand and its merchandise. Combining traditional print, outdoor advertising and retail with interactive digital media, the campaign introduced the images of a new brand to a global audience.

Today, the consistent, black-and-white “look” of ck one is recognized by young shoppers everywhere. This year, in addition to an iPhone application, ck one launched the “virtual box” campaign, where fans of the brand can upload their videos and win a chance for worldwide distribution on the ck one website. .

December 2011

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