Men's Wearhouse fires founder, spokesman George Zimmer
Men's Wearhouse doesn't like the way its founder looks anymore.
The men's clothier said yesterday that it has fired George Zimmer, 64, the face of the company and its executive chairman who appeared in many of its TV commercials with the slogan, "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it."
The company announced the move in a terse statement that gave no reason for the abrupt firing of Zimmer, who built Men's Wearhouse Inc. from one small Texas store using a cigar box as a cash register to one of the North America's largest men's clothing sellers with 1,143 locations.
The firing appears to end the career of one of TV's most recognizable pitchmen. Zimmer's slogan became almost a cultural touchstone, and his natty but down-to-earth charm made dressing sharply feel more accessible to men.
Zimmer said in a written statement that over the past several months he and the company's board disagreed about the company's direction.
He said in a statement, "instead of fostering the kind of dialogue in the boardroom that has, in part, contributed to our success, the board has inappropriately chosen to silence my concerns by terminating me as an executive officer."
The bad blood didn't spook investors, who drove Men's Wearhouse's stock down just 43 cents to $37.04. The stock is still near its 52-week high of $38.59 and ended Wednesday up about 19 percent since the start of the year.
The firing comes a week after Men's Wearhouse reported that its fiscal first-quarter profit increased 23 percent.
Beyond creating a successful company, Zimmer is known as something of a cowboy in the business world.
He brought in spiritual leader Deepak Chopra as a member of the company's board in 2004. He put his fortune to work behind California's failed Proposition 19 in 2010, which would have legalized marijuana in California, where he lived. And Men's Wearhouse didn't conduct criminal background checks on new hires because Zimmer believed that everyone deserves a second chance.
"He's one of a kind," said Richard Jaffe, a Stifel Nicolaus analyst. "He's an entrepreneurial visionary. ... He made looking terrific available for every man in America."
Zimmer declined to comment for the article through his personal publicist beyond the statement. Calls to company executives and board members were immediately referred to a company spokesman, who declined to comment beyond the release.
Jaffe speculated that Zimmer, who handed over his title as chief executive to Douglas Ewert in 2011, may have had difficulty in letting go of the company's reins.
"Clearly, something happened abruptly and fairly dramatically," he said. Jaffe also speculated that perhaps the company was looking for a new spokesman so it could target younger shoppers.