Will Jenna Lyons’ departure help or hinder J.Crew’s turnaround efforts?
J.Crew announced yesterday that its president and longtime creative director, Jenna Lyons, was leaving the company. Ms. Lyon’s departure comes after the several years of sales declines for the retailer.
Ms. Lyons, who has been at J.Crew for 26 years in a variety of positions, was named president and executive creative director back in 2012. She will remain as a creative advisor to the company until her contract expires in December.
Somsack Sikhounmuong, who has served as the design lead for women’s clothing, has been promoted to chief design officer with Ms. Lyons’ departure. In his new role, Mr. Sikhounmuong will be responsible for overseeing the design teams for J.Crew’s men’s, women’s and crewcut lines. Mr. Sikhounmuong was head designer at Madewell from 2013 to 2015, one of the bright spots for J.Crew’s business in recent years.
“Somsack and our design teams have a deep understanding of the aesthetic and style our customers rely on J.Crew to deliver, with a proven track record of driving creative vision in-line with our brand DNA,” said Mickey Drexler, chairman and chief executive of J.Crew, in a statement. “We are excited to extend Somsack’s vision across all design categories and look forward to the team’s contributions. As always, delivering the very best product, value and brand experience across channels is our top priority.”
J.Crew has been reworking designs in recent years and exploring partnerships in an effort to turn its business around. Last year, the retailer began selling an edited assortment of its flagship J.Crew brand at select Nordstrom full-line stores and on Nordstrom.com. The company had previously seen success selling Madewell in Nordstrom stores, expanding from an initial test of 20 stores to 76.
According to CNBC, J.Crew is feeling the burden of $1.5 billion in long-term debt. The company, which was acquired for $3 billion in 2011 by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, saw same-store sales fall seven percent last year following an eight percent drop the year before.
- Lyons to Remain in Creative Advisor Role through 2017 – J. Crew Group, Inc.
- Major shakeup at J Crew as longtime design chief to exit the struggling retailer – CNBC
- J.Crew to sell inside Nordstrom – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why do you think J.Crew has struggled in recent years? Will a change of head designers be the answer to what has been ailing J.Crew?