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2017-06-05 18:03:02
Mickey Drexler Steps Down as Chief of J. Crew, Ending an Era

J. Crew announced on Monday that Millard Drexler, the legendary merchant who masterminded the reinvention of the former preppy catalog brand but also oversaw the company’s struggles in the last couple of years, would be stepping aside as chief executive.

Succeeding him is James Brett, president of the home furnishing brand West Elm. Mr. Drexler, who is known as Mickey, will remain chairman and an owner of J. Crew.

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

The choice of an outsider, and one whose most recent experience came at a middle-market furniture brand, acknowledges the troubles J. Crew has had over the last two years. The brand has been the subject of bankruptcy rumors because of its $2 billion debt load, some of which will become due next year.

Same-store sales have fallen in 11 of the last 12 quarters, and the company shut its bridal business last year. In March, J. Crew, which is backed by the private equity firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, reported that revenue fell 2 percent, to $695 million, in its fiscal quarter ending Jan. 28. And in April, it announced plans to eliminate 150 full-time positions.

Also in April, J. Crew announced the resignation of Jenna Lyons, its longtime executive creative director.

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