In a stunning development at J. Crew Group, Jeffrey Pfeifle, president, will leave the company on Feb. 1.
Pfeifle has been the number-two executive at the retailer, reporting to chairman and chief executive officer Millard "Mickey" Drexler, since 2003. He's been a close associate of Drexler for even longer.
"Jeff and I have had a successful collaboration for more than 15 years, with the last five at J. Crew," Drexler said in a statement Tuesday. "He has made significant contributions to our business. I very much appreciate our working relationship and wish him the best."
"I have been fortunate to work with Mickey and such a talented team, and I am proud of what has been accomplished at J. Crew," Pfeifle said.
Pfeifle played a critical role in helping Drexler execute the visions for turnarounds and start-ups, including rebuilding J. Crew and launching Madewell. Mostly, he had executives from the creative sides of the teams reporting to him. Drexler and the quieter Pfeifle seemed to revel in the challenge of a turnaround and in every detail of the business as J. Crew became one of the fastest-growing retailers around.
Significantly, the company said there is no near-term plan to find a successor and that Pfeifle's responsibilities will be assumed by members of the executive team. Some of them have been gaining in stature, growing in their positions and working closer as partners with Drexler, including Jenna Lyons, creative director overseeing women's design; design of Crewcuts, the children's chain; creative development of catalogue and Web.
Other key players are Margot Brunelle, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for J. Crew, Madewell and Crewcuts; Tracy Gardner, president of retail, direct and merchandising; Todd Snyder, senior vice president of men's design; John Valdivia, senior vice president, store visual for J.Crew, Crewcuts and Madewell, and Libby Waddle, executive vice president of the factory division.
Pfeifle could not be reached for further comment on what happened or what his future plans are.
Sources close to the company said Tuesday that they believe Pfeifle doesn't have a new job yet and may have decided to take it easy for awhile after working so hard for several years.Drexler joined J. Crew in late January 2003, after being pushed out as ceo of Gap Inc. A week after he joined J. Crew, he recruited Pfeifle from Old Navy, where he served as executive vice president and had worked closely with Drexler on the Old Navy rollout in the Nineties. Prior to Old Navy, he worked at Polo Ralph Lauren.
Another source close to the company said it was "a mutual decision" for Pfeifle to leave, and that there wasn't a specific disagreement that triggered the departure. J. Crew's announcement on Pfeifle's departure gave few details and did not use the term resignation to characterize his leaving. "I'm wondering if it was a parting of ways," said one retail analyst, who requested anonymity.
Another retail source said the partnership between Drexler and Pfeifle after all these years "was no longer working out. It was time for him to move on. He wasn't as engaged. At one time, Drexler and Pfeifle were real tight."
"I was really shocked," said another retail analyst, who also requested anonymity. "I believe they let him go."
In after-hours trading following the Pfeifle announcement, J. Crew shares fell 30 cents to $39.69, or 0.75 percent.
According to a Form 4 filing by Pfeifle in June, he owned about 540,000 J. Crew common shares. At the current trading price of almost $40, Pfeifle's J. Crew stock would be worth roughly $21.6 million.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews