J. Crew hires former head of Victoria's Secret as its new CEO
Posted January 28, 2020 5:28 p.m. EST
CNN — J. Crew has turned to an executive from another struggling brand, Victoria's Secret, to lead its turnaround. Jan Singer will become J. Crew's new CEO, the company said Tuesday.
Singer became Victoria's Secret chief executive in 2016, but she left the company in 2018 amid a sales slump and competition from online lingerie brands. Singer, 55, also was CEO of Spanx and worked in executive roles at Nike and other retailers.
Despite declining sales at Victoria's Secret, J. Crew, in a statement, pointed to Singer's "significant experience in building global consumer brands and consumer and retail leadership."
J. Crew has been searching for a permanent chief executive since 2018, when former CEO Jim Brett, who came from West Elm, resigned less than two years into the role.
Brett left the company because of a disagreement with the board of directors over how to "evolve" J. Crew. He had signed a deal to sell on Amazon and shift J. Crew away from its traditional preppy image.
J. Crew has around $1.7 billion in debt, much of it brought on by a 2011 leveraged buyout. During the first nine months of 2019, sales at J. Crew were off 5%.
As of November, J. Crew had 190 stores and 172 factory stores.
In September, J. Crew announced it planned to spin off Madewell, its fast-growing denim brand, into a separate public company.
"While J.Crew continues to struggle, Madewell has emerged as the company's crown jewel, accounting for the majority of profits," Raya Sokolyanska, senior analyst at Moody's, said in a note at the time.
A successful Madewell IPO could help J Crew pay down a "meaningful portion" of its debt, she said.
That will soon be Singer's problem to solve.