J Crew’s CEO James Brett steps down abruptly
By guest author Ben Strevens from Retail Gazette
J Crew’s chief executive James Brett has will step down from the company with immediate effect after just 17 months.
Brett was flown in last July to head up a turnaround effort at the retailer, which succeeded in returning it to growth.
The relaunch, which saw J Crew introduce larger sizes and reduce prices, saw it achieve a one per cent growth in comparable sales in its second quarter, up from a four per cent decline in the prior three-month period.
A mutual agreement with the board has now been reached, and a group of four senior executives including its president and chief operating officer will take on Brett’s responsibilities until a permanent replacement is found
“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,” Brett stated and added “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 board added: “Jim’s passion and experience brought new energy to J Crew and enhanced our ability to relate to a broad range of consumers, and we thank him for his hard work and thoughtful contributions to position our company for long-term success.
“Building on Jim’s early progress, the leadership team remains committed to driving performance and results, as well as continuing to strengthen operations, enhance customer loyalty and extend brand reach.”
The company’s official press release:
J.Crew Announces CEO Transition
J.Crew Group, Inc. (the “Company”) announced on November 17, 2018, that a mutual agreement has been reached by the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer James Brett, who will step down, effective immediately.
“Jim’s passion and experience brought new energy to J.Crew and enhanced our ability to relate to a broad range of consumers, and we thank him for his hard work and thoughtful contributions to position our Company for long-term success,” said the Board of Directors. “Building on Jim’s early progress, the leadership team remains committed to driving performance and results, as well as continuing to strengthen operations, enhance customer loyalty and extend brand reach.”
“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,” said Brett. “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.”
Brett’s responsibilities will be assumed by an Office of the CEO, comprised of four senior J.Crew executives who have significant operational and merchandising experience with successful retail brands: Michael Nicholson, President & Chief Operating Officer; Adam Brotman, President & Chief Experience Officer; Lynda Markoe, Chief Administrative Officer; and, Libby Wadle, President of Madewell Brand. The Office of the CEO will manage the Company’s operations as the Board works to establish a permanent management structure.
Michael Nicholson, President & Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Nicholson has been the Company’s President & Chief Operating Officer since he joined the Company on January 11, 2016. In addition, Mr. Nicholson served as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer until August 23, 2017. Before joining J.Crew, he was Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of ANN, Inc. from December 2012 until August 2015. Previously, from 2007 to 2012, he served as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of ANN, Inc. Prior to that, he spent seven years at Limited Brands, Inc. holding various executive positions including Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for Victoria’s Secret Beauty Company. Earlier in his career, Mr. Nicholson held senior positions at Colgate Palmolive and Altria Group, Inc.
Adam Brotman, President & Chief Experience Officer
Mr. Brotman has served as the Company’s President & Chief Experience Officer since joining the Company in March 2018. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Brotman was Executive Vice President of Global Retail Operations and Partner Digital Engagement at Starbucks Corporation since 2016 and before that was Chief Digital Officer and GM of Digital Ventures at Starbucks Corporation from April 2009
Lynda Markoe, Chief Administrative Officer
Ms. Markoe has been the Company’s Chief Administrative Officer since September 14, 2017. She previously served as the Company’s Executive Vice President, Human Resources since 2007 and before that, she was Vice President and then Senior Vice President, Human Resources since 2003. Before joining J.Crew, Ms. Markoe worked at The Gap, Inc. where she held a variety of positions over 15 years.
Libby Wadle, President, Madewell Brand
Ms. Wadle became President of Madewell Brand in May 2017. She had previously been President of J.Crew Brand since April 2013. Before that, she was the Executive Vice President of J.Crew Brand from 2011 to 2013, and Executive Vice President of Retail and Factory from 2010 to 2011, and was Executive Vice President of Factory and Madewell from 2007 to 2010. Before that, Ms. Wadle served as Vice President and then Senior Vice President of J.Crew Factory. Prior to joining J.Crew, Ms. Wadle was Division Vice President of Women’s Merchandising at Coach, Inc. from 2003 to 2004 and held various merchandising positions at The Gap, Inc., from 1995 to 2003.
J.Crew will report results for the third quarter of fiscal 2018 on November 29, 2018. Last quarter, J.Crew announced the Company’s return to positive comparable sales growth in its J.Crew brand for the first time in four years, as well as strong performance at Madewell, putting the brand on track to become a USD 1 billion brand.
J.Crew Group, Inc. is an internationally recognized omni-channel retailer of women’s, men’s and children’s apparel, shoes and accessories. As of August 28, 2018, the Company operates 229 J.Crew retail stores, 122 Madewell stores, jcrew.com, jcrewfactory.com, madewell.com, and 175 factory stores (including 42 J.Crew Mercantile stores).
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