Millard “Mickey” Drexler

NEW YORK — After fourteen years at the company, Millard “Mickey” Drexler is stepping down as J. Crew’s chief executive officer.

This announcement, obtained exclusively by WWD,  confirms a WWD report last December that a search for a successor for the longtime ceo was in the works. Drexler’s departure as ceo comes two months after company  president and creative director Jenna Lyons exited the company.

“I am relaxed-ish,” Drexler told WWD in an exclusive interview on Monday. “It’s a large day for me. I have been running companies for 37 years and the announcement today is a major change in my life…I am excited about where the team is and the strategic plans we have. There’s excitement about J. Crew and Madewell —  brands that people love and admire.”

Drexler, who invested $100 million in the company, owns 10 percent and has a strong relationship with the board, said it was his decision to step down. “I have been running companies for 37 years,” he said, noting that he’s 72. He turns 73 in August.

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

“I am a young-old guy. I have ‘shpilkes.’ I am always in a state of impatience. I have been here for 14 years. I thought it was time to move on and lessen up on the day to day,” he said. “The [succession] plan had been in motion for some time. I told the board a year ago I was ready to set down and move to chairman. We worked together looking for the right talent to lead the next phase of growth…When we found Jim we knew had to move quickly.”

Drexler officially hands over the reins in mid-July and will be succeeded by James Brett, currently president of West Elm, the home furnishings division of Williams-Sonoma Inc. Drexler will continue as chairman, with Brett reporting to the board of directors and running the company. He will join the board.

Millard “Mickey” Drexler in 1995.  JOHN CALABRESE/WWD ARCHIVE

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

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