J.Crew gets new CEO; Mickey Drexler still chairman

U.S. fashion brand J.Crew has announced its long-standing chief executive Mickey Drexler is to step down. Most recently, Brett served as president of specialty home furnishing company West Elm, a division of the Williams-Sonoma portfolio.

That, unfortunately, turned out to be the case with J.Crew's Mickey Drexler, who is stepping down as chief executive of the retailer, despite a reputation as among the greats in apparel retailing based on leading a turnaround of Gap and creating its successful Old Navy chain. "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".

Drexler said Brett was chosen due to his "proven track record of pushing for innovation and growing omnichannel brands", he said. He will assume the CEO position this July, and will also join the company's board of directors.

Last year, the retailer's total sales fell 6%, to $2 billion, and same-store sales dropped 8% after decreasing 10% the year before.

Just a few months following the still mysterious leave of J.Crew's creative director - the feted, famed, towering layer of clothing that is [supposed] human Jenna Lyons, it seems more shake ups are coming to the basics brand.

J.Crew has been trying to reinvent itself to gain back customers being lost to fast fashion and discount retailers. "That opportunity exists for J.Crew because of its brand value and customer loyalty". That puts brands like J. Crew in a hard position to compete as styles come and go quicker than ever.

It's hard to call this the wrong move for Drexler and J. Crew. Even J. Crew Factory outlet stores, which sell similar styles for less, couldn't save the brand.

However, any changes to J. Crew won't be immediate.

According to a Moody's research note last week, J.Crew is looking to lower its leverage and push out its nearest debt maturity from 2019 to 2021.

"I think this is the most challenging period apparel retailing has seen maybe ever", Drexler said, adding that he was going to allow Brett to be CEO from day one, despite there being a handover period, and allow him to be the boss. In 2011, J.Crew stockholders approved a $3 billion private equity buyout.

  • Zachary Reyes