Retail guru Millard “Mickey” Drexler has decided to step down as CEO of J. Crew after steering the preppy apparel retailer for over 14 years.
On Monday, privately held J. Crew confirmed that 72-year-old Drexler will step down in a decision that he said was his own. “I am relaxed-ish,” Drexler told WWD, which had an exclusive interview about the change at the top of the retail company. He will be succeeded in July by James Brett, currently president of Williams Sonoma’s (wsm, -3.78%) furniture retailer West Elm, WWD reports. Drexler, who will stay on as chairman, invested $100 million into J. Crew and owns 10% of the company.
“Jim has a proven track record of pushing for innovation and growing omni-channel brands,” said Drexler in a statement. “I look forward to moving into my new role and assist Jim and the team in every way possible to help ensure a smooth and successful transition.”
The change at the top of J. Crew comes as the apparel retailer—which for decades has been closely associated with classic American preppy fashions—has reported sales declines at the namesake brand that haven’t fully been offset by the growing sales for its newer sibling brand Madewell. Last year, for example, sales at J. Crew dropped 6% to $2.02 billion while Madewell’s sales increased 14% to $341.6 million. J. Crew has…