In the one week since Men's Wearhouse fired its executive chairman, founder and pitchman George Zimmer — best known for his signature line, "You're going to like the way you look, I guarantee it" — an embarrassingly public fight has ensued between the two. In today's volley, Zimmer published an open letter accusing the company he founded of marginalizing him and aiming to tarnish his reputation.
After Men's Wearhouse "terminated" Zimmer from his position as executive chairman in a June 19 statement, he fired back with his own press release, saying that the retailer's board of directors "inappropriately" silenced concerns he voiced about the direction the company was heading in. Men's Wearhouse responded in another release on June 25, listinga number of reasons it fired Zimmer, who owns 3.5% of shares: chiefly, that he couldn't cede control of the retailer and was pushing for a buyout that the board felt wasn't in the best interests of shareholders.
In Zimmer's open letter today, he says the board has sought to portray him as "an obstinate former CEO, determined to regain absolute control by pushing a going private transaction for my own personal benefit and ego." He says "nothing could be further from the truth." Zimmer contends that the board rejected the possibility of a buyout without any discussion and "took steps to marginalize and then silence me."
He also says that he has not concluded that a buyout is the best course of action for Men's Wearhouse for preserving its "unique culture and values," but that the board "should be open to at least consider the full range of possibilites that could optimize the future value of the company for all stakeholders."
Zimmer capped his letter by telling employees to stay strong: "To the countless employees who have attempted to contact me over the past week, I appreciate your kind gestures and support I am so very proud of the company we built together and nothing will change that. I encourage you to stay focused on serving your customers and maintaining your jobs. Please do not concern yourselves with my well-being at the risk of your own."
Men's Wearhouse's Facebook page has been filled with fans protesting Zimmer's ouster.
Guess it's Men's Wearhouse's turn to respond.
Sapna Maheshwari is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Maheshwari reports on retail and e-commerce.
Contact Sapna Maheshwari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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