Mickey Drexler Leaving J.Crew CEO Position

Mickey Drexler a well-known and respected retailer will step down from his CEO role at J.Crew the clothing brand, said a company spokesperson on Monday.

Drexler, who is 72, will stay on as the chairman of the board and James Brett will replace him in July.

Brett is a veteran in retail of 25 years and most recently was the president of West Elm the specialty home furnishings business of William-Sonoma.

Prior to his role there, Brett worked with J.C. Penney as well as Urban Outfitters.

Drexler received fame for turning around Gap during the 1990s. In 2003, when he arrived at J.Crew he worked diligently to attempt the same by implementing the idea of providing the masses designer quality clothing and his strategy worked for a period.

However, recently J.Crew has seen a long period of declines in sales as shoppers have hesitated at paying for the preppy style of the brand as prices there moved higher. Sales at same stores have dropped for the last 10 quarters.

At the same time, the company took on heavy debt of approximately $2 billion that ballooned following a 2011 leveraged buyout by TPG Capital.

Drexler, who has a stake in the retailer, has scrambled to have the debt restricted, which threatens to pull the retailer into a bankruptcy filing. However, he has faced resistance from certain debtholders that have mounted legal challenges.

In May, Drexler said he missed signs of how quick technology could change today’s retail.

He said that his plan had been to push lower prices, invest more in marketing online and adopt an image that was more accessible.

He added that he felt the brand had become too elitist in its attitude.

How Brett will have the responsibility of turning around the retailer’s sales as well as restricting its debt.

According to a research note by Moody’s last week, the retailer wants to lower its leverage and to push out its closest debt maturity to 2021 from 2019. If successful, the company could be provided with more breathing room that is needed to help reinvigorate the brand.

However, J.Crew is in the middle of heavy litigation with holders of term loans regarding the validity of a transfer of intellectual property that is contained in a loan agreement, said Moody’s.

In April, another management shakeup took place at J.Crew with Jenna Lyons the longtime head of design announcing she would leave in December at the end of her contract.

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