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J. Crew names a retail veteran to leading executive roles

December 7, 2015 11:44 AM
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One day after J. Crew Group Inc. reported steep third quarter sales and revenue declines, the retailer named industry veteran Michael  Nicholson as its new president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.

The fashion retailer, described by one analyst as “a mess” based on its deepening sales losses, large debt and plunging equity, is looking to Nicholsonto turn around five straight quarters of sales declines and a third quarter loss of $760 million. Nicholson most recently was a top executive at Ann Inc., No. 94 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide and owner of Ann Taylor Stores, and before that, at Limited Brands Inc. (No. 231),

“J. Crew is a mess,” says Neil Saunders, CEO of research and consulting firm Conlumino. In a note to investors, Saunders questions J. Crew’s ability to survive given its $1.5 billion in long-term debt, falling sales that total “an eye watering” $1.2 billion so far this fiscal year and its seemingly insurmountable task of winning back customers who defected after the retailer stopped selling its classic preppy basics.

Lenders may seek to take control of J.Crew if its performance fails to improve in the critically important fourth quarter and beyond, Saunders wrote.

Millard “Mickey” Drexler, J. Crew’s chairman and CEO, said the company welcomes Nicholson “as we move forward with our strategic initiatives, sharpen our execution and build opportunities for profitable growth.”

The retailer’s deteriorating profitability became clearer in its third quarter as the company slashed its goodwill to zero, saying, “There is no remaining goodwill attributable to the J.Crew reporting unit.” Goodwill is an intangible asset that represents a brand’s image value and the premium that might be paid for a company when it’s acquired. J. Crew is No. 52 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide.

J. Crew’s only goodwill value of $107.9 million is related to Madewell, its denim-centered division, and that’s down from $1.7 billion reported in April 2011 when TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners acquired the company on March 1, 2011, according to its financial reports. 

 

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