j. crew mickey drexler

NEW YORK — J. Crew Group has named a new chief executive officer to succeed Millard “Mickey” Drexler, who will remain chairman.

WWD can exclusively report that James Brett, currently president of West Elm, the home furnishings division of Williams Sonoma, will succeed the legendary merchant-turned-executive. This announcement confirms a WWD report last December that a search for a successor was in the works. Drexler’s departure as ceo comes two months after company  president and creative director, Jenna Lyons exited the company.

Jim Brett, President of West Elm Jim Brett, President of West Elm, participates in a panel discussion, "Making the Economy Work for People," at the Clinton Global Initiative in New YorkClinton Global Initiative, New York, USA

Jim Brett  Lennihan/AP/REX/Shutterstock

“Jim has a proven track record of pushing for innovation and growing omnichannel brands. He has 25 years of retail experience, not that experience is the issue,” Drexler told WWD in an exclusive interview on Monday. “He has had various leadership positions at Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, J.C. Penney — there’s a proven track record there. You meet a lot of people during this [succession] process who might have impressive résumés but really haven’t had a chance to build a business. Jim has had a chance to build a business. He’s a merchant. A brand guy. He likes design, and he is a customer person. Those are the four critical elements that go into making a strong leader.”

More: A Study in Style: J.Crew, The Jenna Lyons’ Years

Brett will begin in his new role in mid-July, when Drexler officially steps down as ceo. Brett will report to the board of directors and run the company. He will also join the board.

Click here to read WWD’s exclusive interview with Mickey Drexler.

More on J.Crew:

J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons Scores $1M Package on the Way Out
As Lyons Heads for Exit, J. Crew’s Drexler Takes More Control

In Turnaround Mode: J. Crew Triggers Cuts and Management Shifts