It’s the end of an era. Personalized gifts pioneer Lillian Vernon, 74, who founded the Lillian Vernon Corp. from her kitchen table in 1951 and built it into a $287 million catalog empire, will relinquish day-to-day responsibilities.
The legendary catalog merchant on Feb. 28 asked the board to start searching for a new chief executive. According to spokesperson David Hochberg, Vernon will remain chairman/CEO until a replacement is found.
When Vernon does step down, she ends a remarkable run as CEO of the multititle gifts cataloger. Last year, just before she started her 50th year as CEO, Vernon appeared at the top of a list of the longest-serving U.S. CEOs in “Business Week.”
Hochberg says Vernon will concentrate on licensing the company name for the first time. The Rye, NY-based cataloger soon expects to announce an agreement with a well-known licensing company, he adds.