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Apr 25, 2017
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J.Crew reshuffles signature brand and Madewell execs, slashes 250 jobs

Apr 25, 2017

J. Crew is ready to begin a new chapter. The company on Tuesday announced organizational changes to turnaround its business and streamline its operations.

Madewell Senior Vice President of Merchandising Lisa Greenwald has been promoted to Chief Merchandising Officer of the J. Crew brand, Somsack Sikhounmuong is named the Chief Design Officer and Libby Wadle is appointed the President of Madewell. In addition, President, COO and CFO Michael J. Nicholson has assumed responsibility for the J. Crew brand, in addition to his current duties overseeing the company’s real estate, IT, finance, global supply chain, sourcing, asset management and investment management functions.

"Today's retail environment is changing more rapidly than ever before. Customers demand greater speed to market, convenience and personalized shopping experiences," said J. Crew Chairman and CEO Millard Drexler. "At J. Crew, we are embracing this change and making necessary adjustments to our business and teams to move us forward in a more efficient and dynamic way.”

J. Crew has posted comparable sales declines for numerous quarters, and was kept afloat by the flourishing Madewell brand. The company took notice to Madewell’s success and promoted some of the brand’s talent to the J. Crew brand in order to stimulate growth, namely Somsack Sikhounmuong who currently serves as Head of Women’s Design for the J. Crew brand after serving as Head of Design at Madewell from 2013 to 2015.

The New York City-based company has also been put on watch for possible debt restructuring. According to Reuters, the company’s debt climbed to $2 billion in December 2016, and many outlets began to speculate if J. Crew would file for bankruptcy like many other retailers at the beginning of 2017.

The new promotions, which follows the announcement of the departure of Jenna Lyons, who served as President and Executive Creative Director since 2012, are intended to kickstart positive growth for the company.
Nicholson, who joined the company from Ann Inc. on January 11, 2016, will be responsible for the planning and allocation, merchandising, marketing and design functions of J. Crew, and he will continue to report to Drexler.
Greenwald will oversee merchandising across J. Crew women’s, men’s and Crewcuts, and she will report to Michael J. Nicholson. Wadle joined J. Crew in 2004 alongside Greenwald and held numerous senior management roles for J. Crew Factory and Madewell. She will lead the Madewell brand after having previously served as President of the J. Crew brand. Finally, Somsack assumed his new role on April 5, 2017 and now oversees the women’s, men’s and Crewcuts design teams. He now reports to Nicholson.
In addition to the new appointments, J. Crew is cutting 250 jobs from its corporate headquarters in order to streamline its teams. The company expects to realize $30 million of annualized pre-tax savings in connection with the reduced headcount.
“We take these difficult decisions very seriously, but believe they are absolutely necessary,” said Drexler. “We are streamlining our teams as we evolve our business and processes to cater to the new demands of the retail industry.  While challenging, we know what needs to be done and this is a critical step to position J.Crew for the future.  We are committed to treating impacted associates with respect and support through this period of change."

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