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J.Crew CEO departs in midst of turnaround

After just 16 months in the role, James Brett, chief executive of US-based fashion brand J.Crew, has resigned, effective immediately.

The company released a statement last week confirming that the outgoing executive and board of directors had reached a mutual agreement, leading to his resignation.

“Jim’s passion and experience brought new energy to J.Crew and enhanced our ability to relate to a broad range of consumers, and we thank him for his hard work and thoughtful contributions to position our Company for long-term success,” the board said in the statement.

Brett said in the statement that despite seeing positive results from the brand’s relaunch, he and the board have been unable to agree on how to continue its evolution.

The chief executive position will be filled by an office of the CEO, comprised of president and chief operating officer Michael Nicholson, president and chief experience officer Adam Brotman, chief administrative officer Lynda Markoe and president of Madewell Libby Wadle.

GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders believes Brett’s exit leaves the brand leaderless at a pivotal time of rebuilding sales and reconnecting with consumers.

“The suddenness of the exit suggests there is a tussle over how to develop the brand among the various senior stakeholders,” Saunders said.

The brand’s management was an issue before Brett arrived, according to Saunders; its leaders were divorced from the realities of the retail landscape and customers’ feelings about J.Crew.

“If the departure of Jim Brett hails the return of these unrealistic attitudes, J.Crew is going to slip back and undo all of the progress made to date,” Saunders said.

“Given the precariousness of its financial position, this is a mistake it cannot afford to make.”

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