After fourteen years as CEO of J.Crew, Mickey Drexler has confirmed he will be stepping down. While he will stay on at J.Crew as chairman, Drexler, who owns ten percent of the company, will be succeeded as CEO by Jim Brett, who was just recently president of the home furnishings company West Elm. “This is an exciting time for J.Crew as we continue to make significant changes to position our company for long-term success,” Drexler said in a statement to the public. “As chairman and an owner of the company, it is my responsibility to focus on the future of J.Crew and find the right leadership to execute on our strategic plans.”
In addition, the 26-year creative lead Jenna Lyons has also announced her leaving the company prior to Drexler’s announcement. Throughout their years of working together, the pair transformed the fashion of American men and women into a cultural phenomenon. However, as any successful company, J.Crew faced a few obstacles. In the 2016 fiscal year, net sales at J.Crew fell six percent, reaching $2 billion. As for sales at stores open for at least a year had fallen eight percent. Therefore, the company was looking for fresh ideas to turn around their recent declines, including a return to the seen before preppy staple pieces that were a huge success for the brand in the past, as well as a multi-season collaboration with New Balance. However, the needle has yet to move.
In April, the company revealed that 150 full-time jobs and 100 open positions would be cut as a result of a major restructuring plan to help the struggling business. It is predicted that the effort should have $30 million worth of pre-tax savings, but cost $10 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2017 in severance payments. After previously leading drastic changes at Ann Taylor and Gap, Drexler admitted he wasn’t sure how much technology would reshape retail in a Wall Street Journal interview. “I’ve never seen the speed of change as it is today,” he said. “If I could go back 10 years, I might have done some things earlier.” It is old news that the evolving technology has changed many other aspects of life. In addition, the discount culture of fast fashion and its high demand have also had a negative impact on J.Crew. However, this new shift in management is hoped to lead to innovation.
As for the new CEO, Drexler said, “Jim has a proven track record of pushing for innovation and growing omnichannel brands. I look forward to moving into my new role and assist Jim and the team in every way possible to help ensure a smooth and successful transition.” Brett is set to begin his role in July, and will also join the board of directors at the company. In a recent statement, he mentioned, “I’m honored to work with J.Crew’s talented team of leaders, board of directors and Mickey, who have built an iconic American brand. J.Crew has tremendous opportunity to play a more meaningful role in our lives, and I look forward to leading it through its next phase of growth.”