West Elm CEO Jim Brett to Replace Mickey Drexler at J.Crew

Violet Tucker
June 6, 2017

Together they made J.Crew one of America's most beloved brands, and earned fans including former first lady Michelle Obama. Notably, Drexler will remain as chairman of the board. Drexler, speaking to the Wall Street Journal just last month (paywall), said the company had become too "elitist", giving shoppers the sense that it was a higher-priced brand than it really was.

That might partially explain the shake-up, but we wouldn't blame Drexler and Lyons for wanting a break from a retailer of J.Crew's scale, either. Comparable sales at J.Crew fell 6.7% in 2016, on top of an 8.2% drop the year before.

The plan has been in the works for about a year, according to WWD, and Drexler will officially step down in mid-July to be replaced by current West Elm president James Brett.

"Jim has a proven track record of pushing for innovation and growing omni-channel brands", said Drexler in his statement.

As West Elm, Brett led a brand that successfully wooed a generation of young, affluent shoppers looking for furniture that was a step up from low-priced mainstays like Ikea - a competitive trait that will be welcomed as J.Crew tries to get sales of its preppy, pricey clothes growing again.

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"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 in Monday's statement. Lyons's fashion-forward prep had ultimately become too eccentric and expensive for J.Crew's once-loyal customers. That's problematic when customers are visiting those stores less frequently.

Meanwhile, fast-fashion brands have been able to churn out new styles at a quick pace that defies how apparel was traditionally rolled out each season.

J.Crew has struggled in recent years with slumping sales and billions in debt.

J.Crew is owned by private equity firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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