- J.Crew’s longtime former CEO and current chairman, Mickey Drexler, is stepping down from the company after more than 15 years.
- The news comes at a tricky time for the brand, which is currently without a CEO.
- Jim Brett, who replaced Drexler as CEO in June 2017, had been leading the charge in J.Crew’s turnaround efforts after several years of flagging sales. He stepped down in November 2018.
Mickey Drexler is leaving J.Crew for good after 15 years at the company.
“It’s been a privilege to have had more than 15 years with J.Crew Group both as CEO and chairman of the board. J.Crew and Madewell have been long admired as iconic American brands, and I am thankful to have been a part of their evolution throughout the years,” Drexler said in a statement to the press on Friday. “I look forward to working with the Office of the CEO and the board as a strategic advisor to help support J.Crew’s long term success.”
The news comes at a tricky time for the brand, which currently finds itself without a CEO. It’s midway through executing a turnaround after several years of flagging sales.
Jim Brett, who replaced Drexler as CEO in June 2017, had been leading the charge in the retailer’s turnaround efforts. The retailer had been accused of becoming unaffordable and impractical under the leadership of its former CEO, Mickey Drexler, and longtime creative director, Jenna Lyons. To combat this, Brett lowered prices, added plus-sizes, and, most recently, started selling its low-cost Mercantile collection on Amazon.
And it seemed to be paying off. J.Crew’s same-store sales numbers turned a corner in August and continued to grow in its most recent quarterly results after dropping for the last four years.
However, Brett stepped down from the company in November after only 17 months on the job. In a statement to the press at the time, he hinted that clashes with the board may have been the reason behind his departure.
“Returning J.Crew to its iconic status required reinventing the brand to reflect the America of today with a more expansive, more inclusive fashion concept,” he said. “However, despite the recent brand relaunch already showing positive results, the Board and I were unable to bridge our beliefs on how to continue to evolve all aspects of the Company.”
The Wall Street Journal later confirmed these suspicions.
Sources familiar with the matter told The Journal that Drexler took issue with Brett’s decision to start selling clothing on Amazon, as well as his plans to grow the company’s budget line, J.Crew Mercantile.
Drexler, who famously said the company would never sell on Amazon, was concerned that these moves would cheapen the brand. The tensions came to a head in a recent board meeting, sources said.
Brett has temporarily been replaced by a team of four executives while the board searches for his replacement. Since he left, many of the changes that he put into action – including launching new label Nevereven and growing J.Crew’s low-cost apparel collection – have been overturned.
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