Seizing an opportunity to hire a brand-new chief executive and reap investment capital in one fell swoop, apparel marketer J. Crew on Jan. 27 named former Gap CEO Millard “Mickey” Drexler chairman/CEO. Drexler replaces another former Gap executive, Ken Pilot, who joined J. Crew this past August, less than six months ago. According to J. Crew, Pilot resigned.
In addition to helming the apparel cataloger/retailer, Drexler is investing $10 million of his own money in the company. Texas Pacific, the majority investor in J. Crew, has matched Drexler’s investment. Drexler is also bringing with him Jeff Pfeifle, former executive vice president, product and design for The Gap’s Old Navy unit, as president of J. Crew.
“It was just an unusual set of circumstances in which Mickey became available,” says J. Crew spokesperson Owen Blicksilver. “Subsequently, J. Crew jumped at the opportunity to bring in someone of his experience and caliber combined with his willingness to make a significant investment in the company.”
Drexler’s money wasn’t a requirement made by J. Crew; rather, Blicksilver says “it was at his request.”
With Drexler’s hiring, J. Crew chair Emily Woods, the daughter of company founder Arthur Cinader, relinquishes her title. She will remain a member of the board of directors and an investor in the company.
J. Crew sales for fiscal 2002 are estimated at $750 million, down from $778 million for 2001. Catalog sales, which once made up the lion’s share of the company, accounted for just $120 million; Web-based sales made up $150 million; retail sales account for the balance, although 10% of overall sales come from J. Crew outlet stores.