Larry Paparo, the ebullient founder of the company bearing his initials, is in a nasty fight for control of his firm.
Multiple sources inside LJP International said Paparo was abruptly dismissed earlier this week by his business partner and majority shareholder, Jay Kau, in what they described as an attempted coup.
Sources at the Edison, N.J.-based company said Wayne Bailey has been named acting CEO.
Bailey, who had served as COO at the firm since 2014, told Footwear News in an exclusive interview that shareholders wanted “the direction of the company to be changed.”
“We are realigning our business,” Bailey said Friday morning. “Our company is reborn, excited and more engaged than ever.”
For his part, Paparo acknowledged there “are some issues” with his partner, but denies he’s been ousted or asked to resign from the privately run firm.
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“Nothing has changed,” said Paparo. “I’m still running things. There is an issue and it’s going to be resolved next week.”
With Paparo and LJP shareholders locked in a feud for control, both sides have hired lawyers.
Paparo, who still retains his shares in the company, launched LJP International in 2006 after holding positions at Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Nine West and kids brand Elefanten.
The industry veteran, who cracked FN’s Power 100 list for the first time last year, quickly turned his sourcing firm into a fast-growing business with multiple licenses. In recent years, LJP International’s portfolio swelled to include Bruno Magli, Robert Graham, Bare Traps, Mootsies Tootsies, Nine West kids, Limited Too, and Ben Sherman Kids, among others.
LJP also distributed shoes for CCILU, a brand founded by Killick Datta, the former head of Global Brand Marketing Inc.
Bailey and Paparo said they have each reached out to industry partners to assure them that there will be no disruption to business.