Apparel group Phillips-Van Heusen Corp is to exit the wholesale footwear business after licensing its Bass brand to footwear retailer Brown Shoe Co.

The licensing agreement, which will see St Louis-based Brown Shoe design, source and market footwear under the Bass label, is expected to take effect in early February.

According to Phillips-Van Heusen CEO Bruce Klatsky, the move will allow the company to focus on its Calvin Klein brand and wholesale apparel business.

"Our wholesale footwear business was unable to become more than marginally profitable," he said.

"The license agreement with Brown Shoe gives us the ability to partner with a footwear company that has both the size and expertise to grow the Bass footwear business and enhance its brand image."

In related news, Brown Shoe has named former Phillips-Van Heusen footwear division vice-president Diane Sullivan as its new company president.

Sullivan, who also served as COO of Stride Rite Corporation, will oversee Brown Shoe's operating divisions including famous Footwear, Brown Shoe Wholesale and Naturalizer.