Most recently, Brett served as president of specialty home furnishing company West Elm, a division of the Williams-Sonoma portfolio. Last year, for example, sales at J. Crew dropped 6% to $2.02 billion while Madewell's sales increased 14% to $341.6 million.
It's hard to call this the wrong move for Drexler and J. Crew. Drexler, who is known as Mickey, will remain chairman and an owner of J. Crew.
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.
"Given elevated leverage, deteriorating operating trends and negative cash flow projections, debt restructuring risk is increasing in advance of J.Crew's May 2019 holdco note maturity ($567 million due)", Fitch said, predicting that the company will lose between $50 million and $60 million of free cash flow in 2017. "I am relaxed-ish", Drexler, 72, said of the transition.
Mickey Drexler, chief executive officer of the J.Crew Group, will be exiting the company mid-July, WWD reports. "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". "Jim has a proven track record of pushing for innovation and growing omni-channel brands". During his tenure, Brett grew West Elm to become a $1 billion global brand.
The J.Crew we once knew is slipping away. He has also served in various merchandising roles at other retailers including Anthropologie, the J.C. Penney Company, Inc. and May Department Stores Company. That puts brands like J. Crew in a hard position to compete as styles come and go quicker than ever.