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J.Crew CEO steps down despite promising turnaround signs

J.Crew Group has announced that CEO James Brett is to step down with immediate effect after reaching a mutual agreement with its board of directors.

The news comes just 17 months after Brett was appointed to lead a turnaround strategy for the fashion retailer. Recent months have seen the brand relaunch with lower prices and a wider range of product sizes.

The changes had led to J.Crew reporting a 3% increase in second-quarter revenue to $587.7m (£457.2m). Comparable sales also increased by 1% compared with the 8% drop it experienced during the same period last year.  

The company has announced Brett’s responsibilities will be assumed by an office of the CEO, comprised of four senior J.Crew executives who have “significant operational and merchandising experience with successful retail brands”. The four executives are: Michael Nicholson, president and COO; Adam Brotman, president and CEO; Lynda Markoe, chief administrative officer; and, Libby Wadle, president of Madewell Brand.

The office of the CEO will manage the company’s operations as the board works to establish a permanent management structure.

The board of directors said: “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.

“Building on Jim’s early progress, the leadership team remains committed to driving performance and results, as well as continuing to strengthen operations, enhance customer loyalty and extend brand reach.”

Brett added: “Returning J.Crew to its iconic status required reinventing the brand to reflect the America of today with a more expansive, more inclusive fashion concept. However, despite the recent brand relaunch already showing positive results, the board and I were unable to bridge our beliefs on how to continue to evolve all aspects of the company.”

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