J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler: Private is Better Than Public

| + More Articles
  • Like on Facebook
  • Share on Google+
  • Share on LinkedIn
J. Crew Chairman and CEO Mickey Drexler gave his first interview – since taking J. Crew private four weeks ago – to Bloomberg Television. 

Drexler told Margaret Brennan of Bloomberg TV that, regarding his decision to take J. Crew private, he “would do it the same way” again and that he “sleeps well at night.” Drexler also spoke about international expansion for the brand and his management style.  He also suggested creative director Jenna Lyons as a possible successor.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F-AKnAJjyI

Drexler on the controversial decision to accept TPG’s buyout of J.Crew:
“I would do it the same way…I sleep well at night.  People write things.  It’s the way of America.  I expected it.  It is what it is.  I can’t blame anyone. If you look at most buyouts etc., things happen.  But I’m very comfortable with it.  First of all, no one ever says they wouldn’t do anything differently.  I wouldn’t buy the same amount of the goods I see here maybe the same in certain styles or whatever.  But I’d have to think about that.” 

On retail performance in an economic downturn:
“It’s not the high tide right now.  Although I looked at some of the numbers recently and there will be companies that always do well.  And the companies that do well, by the way, I think are the ones that dominate categories.  If you do it best, over the long term, you’re going to drive more traffic to your business because they’re going to find the best quality products in those categories.  So when I mentioned the categories, it’s just not put all the goods out there and hope for the best because a lot of people put the goods out there.  And when we have a rough season, and we put the goods out, and we have a lot of markdowns.  More and more markdowns drive people away from regular price in theory.  That’s why the investment aspect is so critical.”

On international expansion of J. Crew:
“We’re looking at international frankly, because the demand is there…We are an American brand, but I find most brands today are actually worldwide…We go to Canada (NYSE:EWC) in the fall.  But we’re looking at an online [business] actually even sooner than even with bricks and mortar because our online business is our most profitable business.  And we just have huge demand overseas.  So we’re not running.  We’re walking, we’re studying right now.  But we launch the U.K. I think in August or September.  That’s kind of our official online international.  Although we are in Japan (NYSE:EWJ) left over from a deal we had.  So we’re starting to emphasize the Japanese too.”

On his succession plan:
“I can’t speculate on that. We’re a team that’s been together.  The only reason we did this is because the team.  The team got us here.  The team will get us to where we’re going.  But I think everyone has to think about a succession plan.  And I think about that too.  This is early days, really.  And certainly that would be important because the responsibility is to your associates and the shareholders.  So yes.  You figure out the team and who’s best and you’re always working.  There’s never any work that stops.  Yes, we are working on one.”

On President and Creative Director Jenna Lyons as his successor:
“Well how could you say no, right?  I mean, I don’t know if she’s going to be watching this or not, but sure.”

On his management style:
“We micro-manage the heck out of our business.  We look at every style.  And we do that.  Some people were speaking at a business school last year, and they say we’ve been accused of micromanaging.  I said, you show me someone who does their job well who’s not micromanaging every detail of what a customer feels.  Now you can define it differently.  So we look at every style.  I’m involved.”

“I took it personally because someone wrote about 20 years ago that it’s not good to micromanage.  And then I looked at all the people out there who run their companies and I’ve had the honor to be on the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) board for 12 years.  A lot of micro-managing going on there.  No one’s complaining about the results.”

Drexler on Steve Jobs and his nickname of the Steve Jobs of retail:
“It’s an enormous compliment.  That’s all I can say because I think Steve has done extraordinary things for not just Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) but in this world.  He’s done an incredible, incredible job– I don’t know if ever to be seen again.  So any comparison to Steve is certainly a compliment to me or anyone else.

“As a director, I was involved in early days with Steve on store design and the team.  And that’s probably one of the reasons we got together.  Although I can say I thought his idea to do an Apple store was incredible.  But Steve thinks beyond wherever anyone else is thinking.”

More Articles About:
Yahoo Finance, Harvard Business Review, Market Watch, The Wall St. Journal, Financial Times, CNN Money, Fox Business