Over a year after the departure of its last chief executive, J.Crew finally has a new CEO.
Jan Singer, who was previously the CEO of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, a position she left at the end of 2018, is taking the top spot at the retailer, where she’ll oversee the J.Crew and J.Crew Factory businesses, filling a role that’s been vacant for over a year.
Singer is taking on a role that’s long been associated with Mickey Drexler, who held the top spot at J.Crew for over 15 years. Drexler stepped down as CEO in 2017 and last year resigned his position as chairman. (He does, however, still occasionally work for the company as a strategic adviser.)
In July 2017, James Brett, formerly of West Elm, succeeded Drexler, but Brett only lasted a year in the position, leaving in November 2018. Since April of last year, J.Crew’s chief operating officer, Michael J. Nicholson, has led the company on an interim basis.
Singer joins the company after a “thoughtful and extensive search” to fill the post, according to a statement.
“Jan is a dynamic leader with significant experience growing and modernizing omnichannel brands,” Chad Leat, director and chairman of the board of directors, said in a statement. “Over the past year, we have made great progress restoring profitability at the J.Crew brand, while further optimizing our operations, thereby establishing a strong foundation for long-term growth. Jan’s passion for our brand, focused vision of our potential and deep understanding of the modern consumer will be invaluable in rebuilding the strategic positioning and prestige of our iconic brand and company.”
It’s been a rocky few years for J.Crew, which has struggled with declining sales and wavering consumer loyalty. In addition to losing Drexler, the brand also saw the departure of its most public persona, president and creative director Jenna Lyons, in 2017. At the end of 2019, J.Crew reported a 4% quarterly sales decline.
Singer is coming to the brand at a pivotal moment. At the end of last year, J.Crew solidified a deal with creditors that paved the way for an IPO of denim brand Madewell, which has been a strong performer in the J.Crew portfolio in recent years. At the same time J.Crew’s sales were declining, Madewell saw a 13% quarterly increase in sales.
Singer joins the team with deep experience in the retail sector. Before her time at Victoria’s Secret, she served as CEO of Spanx and held top-level roles at Nike.
“I’m excited and honored to join this iconic brand and team at such an important time,” Singer said in a statement. “For me, J.Crew has led specialty retail by knowing what it takes to be a brand—putting the consumer first and at the center. My passion for developing product, brand experiences and teams feels very at home at J.Crew. It’s a beloved brand that has always been in my heart and, like millions of consumers, in my closet.”