Liz Claiborne Sells Off Namesake Brand, Ponders Name Change

Liz Claiborne (NYSE:LIZ) has sold off its namesake brand to J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) for $267.5 million and says it will likely change the company’s name as it focuses on its three remaining key brands.

J.C. Penney, based in Plano, Texas,  inked a deal on Wednesday to acquire the worldwide rights and intellectual property of the Liz Claiborne family of brands as well as the U.S. and Puerto Rico rights for the jewelry brand Monet.

Liz Claiborne expects to see as much as $288 million in proceeds from that deal that it says will be used to pay off debt. Shares of the company were up more than 32% to $6.74 on Wednesday.

The J.C. Penney acquisition accelerates an earlier deal reached by the companies where J.C. Penney, which has been the exclusive licensee for all Liz Claiborne and Claiborne-branded merchandise in the U.S. and Puerto Rico since August 2010, could exercise its rights to purchase the brand five years into the decade-long agreement.

The company expects that J.C. Penney will become the exclusive retailer to sell Monet, a brand it currently does not offer, by August 2012. The deal, subject to regulatory approval, is slated to close within 30 days.

“The brands we are acquiring hold tremendous appeal for our customers, and the performance of the Liz Claiborne and Claiborne brands at J.C. Penney has consistently exceeded our high expectations,” J.C. Penney CEO Myron Ullman said. “We will now build on that strength to accelerate the brands' performance."

Liz Claiborne, a New York-based maker of apparel and accessories under its key remaining brands Kate Spade, Lucky Brand and Juicy Couture, said it has also agreed to sell the Dana Buchman brand to Kohl’s, and the Kensie brand to Bluestar Alliance. The company expects to get cash proceeds from those deals amounting to $40 million.

Additionally, the designer has decided to terminate the DKNY Jeans and DKNY Active license with Donna Karan International a year earlier than expected.

The divestment of these brands add to a slew of others unloaded by Liz Claiborne earlier this year including Elizabeth Arden. The company said the transactions underscore its commitment to “unlocking value” for its stakeholders.