Clothing retailer Men's Wearhouse (NYSE: MW) on Wednesday, in a wholly unexpected move, fired George Zimmer, the company’s founder and longtime face of the business.
For years the company’s television advertisements have ended with the bearded and nattily dressed Zimmer intoning, “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.”
In a statement, the company gave no reason for terminating Zimmer, who served as executive chairman, saying only that the board “expects to discuss with Mr. Zimmer the extent, if any, and terms of his ongoing relationship with the company.”
Zimmer released a statement Wednesday saying, “Over the past several months I have expressed my concerns to the board about the direction the company is currently heading.” He added that the board has “inappropriately chosen to silence my concerns by terminating me.”
Zimmer first appeared in Men’s Wearhouse advertisements in 1985, according to the company’s website. As of noon Wednesday, the site still prominently featured Zimmer.
In the wake of Zimmer’s firing, Men’s Wearhouse cancelled its annual meeting of shareholders scheduled to take place Wednesday. The company said the postponement will allow the company to re-nominate the current board of directors “without Mr. Zimmer.”
Men’s Warehouse shares were down 91 cents, or 2.43% at $36.56 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Zimmer founded the company in 1973 as a single store in Texas. The company, now based in Fremont, Calif., currently operates 1,143 stores under the Men’s Wearhouse, Moores and K&G chains. It also sells uniform and work clothes, and rents tuxedos.
In addition, Men’s Wearhouse runs a global corporate apparel and workwear group that includes Twin Hill in the U.S. and Dimensions, Alexandra, and Yaffy in the United Kingdom.
Zimmer’s firing comes just a week after the company reported that its fiscal first-quarter profit increased 23%, boosted by stronger margins and an earlier prom season.