US J. Crew shakes up management, cuts jobs in bid for profitability

J. Crew Group Inc., the struggling apparel chain, will shake up its management ranks and cut 250 jobs in a bid to revive growth.

As part of the overhaul, Chief Operating Officer Michael Nicholson will begin overseeing the J. Crew brand, including marketing and design decisions. Nicholson, a 50-year-old former Ann Inc. executive who joined the retailer last year, also has the job of chief financial officer, giving him a central role in the attempt to turn around the business.

Chief Executive Officer Mickey Drexler, who previously ran Gap Inc., is taking more drastic steps to reinvigorate the former retail darling. The company is coping with shrinking sales and a broader shift away from mall-based retail. Same-store sales – a key benchmark – fell 7 % last year and 8 % in 2015. The company also has a heavy debt load tied to its 2011 purchase by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners LP.

Lisa GreenwaldAmong the other changes announced on April 25, 2017, Lisa Greenwald will become chief merchandising officer for the J. Crew brand, putting her in charge of men’s, women’s and kids’ products. She previously oversaw merchandising at the company’s Madewell division. Libby Wadle, who had been president of J. Crew, will take that same role at Madewell.

The job cuts will include 150 full-time positions and 100 open slots, mostly at the company’s New York headquarters. The move is expected to eventually generate USD 30 million in annual cost savings, though it will bring a one-time charge of USD 10 million for severance payments and other termination costs in the first quarter.

The latest upheaval comes about three weeks after J. Crew announced that longtime creative director Jenna Lyons will leave the company at the end of 2017. Drexler also is talking with creditors about restructuring the company’s debt. One of his proposals, a plan to shift the J. Crew brand name to an entity in the Cayman Islands, has riled lenders. They say the change could prevent them from demanding the intellectual property as collateral or lower the value of their holdings in any restructuring.

Chico FAS, Inc. announces nomination of Deborah L. Kerr to Board of Directors

Chico’s FAS, Inc. announced on April 27, 2017 that its Board has nominated Deborah L. Kerr for election by its shareholders at the Company’s annual meeting on June 22, 2017. Kerr will fill the remaining one year term of Ross E. Roeder, who is retiring from the Board effective at the annual meeting.

She most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Product and Technology Officer of Sabre Corporation in Dallas, Texas, where she led the Deborrah L. Kerrglobal product and technology organization. She previously held executive leadership roles in technology at FICO, Hewlett Packard Company and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She currently serves on the boards of directors of DH Corporation and EXLService Holdings, Inc.

“Ms. Kerr is a highly experienced technology and product expert, with proven skills in innovation and risk management,” said David F. Walker, Chair of the Board of Chico’s FAS. “She will bring a unique and fresh voice to our Board.”

Shelley Broader, President and CEO of Chico’s FAS, said, “I am looking forward to Ms. Kerr’s seasoned counsel as we continue to enhance our customers’ overall experience with the Chico’s FAS brands, both in our stores and online.”

After Ms. Kerr’s election, more than half of Chico’s FAS nine-member Board will be female. As a Company that serves women, Chicos FAS recognizes the vital contributions that women make on its Board of Directors, executive leadership team and throughout its organization.

Ross E. RoederMr. Roeder joined the Board in 1997 and served as its Chairman from 2009 to 2015.

“Ross has been a valued member of the Chico’s FAS Board over many years of growth and change at Chico’s, and we thank him for his thoughtful and dedicated service,” said Mr. Walker. 

The Company, through its brands – Chico’s, White House Black Market and Soma, is a leading omni-channel specialty retailer of women’s private branded, sophisticated, casual-to-dressy clothing, intimates, and complementary accessories.

As of January 28, 2017, the Company operated 1501 stores in the US and Canada and sold merchandise through franchise locations in Mexico.


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