J.Crew's Drexler Steps Aside

Retail chain hasn't been able to stem sales declines

Author: Andria Cheng

June 5, 2017

J.Crew Group Inc., struggling with three straight years of declining sales, said long-time CEO Mickey Drexler, known in the industry as the "Merchant Prince,” has resigned.

Drexler, 72, resigned from his position as CEO on May 30, with an effective date on or about July 10, the company said in a regulatory filing, adding Drexler will remain as company chairman. The 48-year-old James Brett, a 25-year-plus industry veteran and most recently president of Williams-Sonoma’s better-performing West Elm home furnishings chain, will succeed Drexler. Brett also was merchandising chief at the Urban Outfitters chain and held merchandising roles at other chains including Urban Outfitters’ Anthropologie, JC Penney Co. and May Department Stores. 

J. Crew has forecast another comparable sales decrease this year. 

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The departure of Drexler, formerly chief at Gap Inc. and widely credited with having made Gap the largest specialty US clothing retailer, comes as J.Crew has reported three straight years of declining comparable sales, including a 6.7% drop in this past fiscal year. Sales at its namesake chain slumped 8% after a 10% drop the prior year, offsetting gains at the Madewell chain, which Drexler founded. The company in April said 26-year-company veteran and long-time creative director Jenna Lyons also is leaving the company.

“I think this is the most challenging period apparel retailing has seen maybe ever,” Drexler told trade publication Women’s Wear Daily on Monday. “People aren’t shopping the way they used to shop. There’s a revolution going on out there—an online revolution.”