J.Crew considering Madewell IPO; appoints interim CEO
J.Crew Group, Inc. announced on Thursday that it is considering launching an IPO for its Madewell business, further revealing that Michael J. Nicholson will be taking over as the struggling US apparel company’s interim CEO, effective immediately.
Should it go ahead, the IPO, which, according to J.Crew, is being pondered in consultation with its legal and financial advisors as one option among a number of “strategic alternatives to maximize the value of the company,” could complete as early as the second half of 2019. “We believe a potential IPO of Madewell, which had another record year of performance in 2018, could unlock significant value and generate meaningful proceeds that would strengthen our balance sheet and increase our overall financial flexibility to address our 2021 debt maturities, giving us an improved platform to support J.Crew's turnaround and allowing Madewell to achieve its full potential over the long-term,” explained Nicholson, J.Crew’s newly appointed interim CEO, in a release. Nicholson first joined the company as president and chief operating officer in 2016, also serving as chief financial officer until August 2017. Prior to this, he spent eight years at specialty womenswear retail group Ann Inc., where he ultimately served as EVP, chief operating officer, chief financial officer and treasurer. The executive’s other previous experience includes stints at Limited Brands, Victoria's Secret Beauty Company, Colgate Palmolive and Altria Group. In his new position, he will replace a four-exec team – of which he himself was a member – which stepped in following the shock exit of Jim Brett from the company in November of last year, after only 17 months as CEO. Among the other members of the team, Chief Administrative Officer Lynda Markoe and Madewell President Libby Wadle will continue in their current roles. Chief Experience Officer Adam Brotman, however, will be resigning from his position for personal reasons as of April 19, 2019. Both Wadle and Nicholson will report to the company’s board of directors, which also received a new addition on Wednesday: Co-Managing Partner of TPG Capital Jack Weingart, it was announced, is replacing Carrie Wheeler, who will be stepping down from the J.Crew board after eight years. Weingart brings experience serving as both managing partner of Funding Group and managing director at Goldman, Sachs & Co. to his new role. J.Crew reported a loss of $120.1 million on revenues of $2.48 billion in fiscal 2018, as attempts to relaunch and reposition its namesake brand proved to be largely unsuccessful. Ultimately, the company’s 5% increase in annual revenues was assured by 26% growth at consistent bright spot Madewell, while sales at the J.Crew brand slipped 4%. At the end of last month, Reuters reported that the group, which currently operates more than 500 retail locations, had turned to debt restructuring lawyers for the second time in as many years, citing sources familiar with the matter.
By Robin Driver
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