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.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)