Men's Wearhouse Fires Its Face and Founder

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by Casie Kolbinsky

Men's Wearhouse released a press release Wednesday that it had fired the company's face and founder, George Zimmer.

Many recognize Zimmer from the Men's Wearhouse TV commercials where Zimmer states the company slogan, "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it."

Zimmer founded Men's Wearhouse more than 40 years ago and began appearing in the company's commercials in the mid-'80s. With more than 1,140 stores located in the United States, Men's Wearhouse has since grown to be one of the top retailers in the country for specialty men's clothing, according to reports.

Sources say Men's Wearhouse did not release a reason for the firing.

Zimmer exhibited anger toward the board of directors about his termination.

"Over the past several months, I have expressed my concerns to the Board about the direction the company is currently heading," he reportedly said in a statement. "Instead of fostering the kind of dialogue in the Boardroom that has, in part, contributed to our success, the Board has inappropriately chosen to silence my concerns by terminating me as executive officer."

However, Sheldon Stein, the CEO of Glazer's Distributors who serves on the board of Men's Wearhouse, said he was optimistic about the direction the company was heading.

"All I can say is that, as a Board member, I am very excited about the future of The Men's Wearhouse," he reportedly said. "I totally support our CEO Doug Ewert and our entire management team."

Sources say Zimmer's role at the retailing company has diminished over recent years. He stepped down as chief executive officer in 2011 and then hired Ewert to be his replacement. Then, in 2012, he hired Joseph Abboud as fashion director.

Some said Zimmer had trouble giving up his power, including Richard Jaffe, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus.

"We believe that despite Zimmer's planned transition to a smaller role at the company, he had difficulty letting go of the reins and the leadership of the business," he reportedly said. "We believe this led to a conflict with the board and his subsequent termination."

Jaffe added that board members had been questioning the effectiveness of Zimmer's use as a spokesman among what he called the "millennial consumer," according to reports.

Sources say the company even listed Zimmer's presence as a risk factor in its annual report filed in April.

"George Zimmer has been very important to the success of the company and is the primary advertising spokesman," the company reportedly said. "Although we believe we have a strong management team with relevant industry expertise, the extended loss of the services of Mr. Zimmer or other key personnel could have a material adverse effect on the securities markets' view of our prospects and materially harm our business."

Jaffe added he felt confident in the company's current management team.

"We believe current management has been running the business effectively and will continue to do so," he reportedly said.

Reports say board members plan to discuss with Zimmer the extent of his future relationship with the company.
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