Here's George Zimmer's letter blasting Men's Wearhouse
The founder of the company has strong words for the board that ousted him.
The founder of Men's Wearhouse (MW) published an open letter to the company Wednesday defending himself after his public ouster last week. The full text of the letter is below.
The drama between Zimmer and the company has been escalating after Men's Wearhouse announced his firing in a short note. In his letter, Zimmer provides some background details.
The board unanimously nominated him for re-election just one month before firing him, Zimmer said. Over the last two years, he added, the board has been "eroding the principles and values" that made the company so successful.
The company is not responding to Zimmer's letter yet.
Here's the full letter:
"Since 1973 when I opened the first The Men’s Wearhouse store in Houston, with the help of tens of thousands of current and former employees, we have built a multi-billion dollar company based on two guiding principles. The first is to serve customers by delivering value and an enjoyable shopping experience and the second is to embody the values of servant leadership by trusting and empowering our employees to create that experience. I believed that if we did these things right, customers would be satisfied, employees would feel appreciated and motivated and shareholder value would be created. And, in fact, all this has happened.
Over the years, as CEO, I consistently encouraged the company to take a longer term approach of investing most of our profits back in the company, delivering value to our customers and building a loyal and dedicated workforce totally committed to service, rather than pursuing shorter term strategies based on financial engineering. Inside the Boardroom, we often had spirited discussions about how best to achieve these objectives. Regardless of whether the Board eventually sided with my point of view or not, I believe this dialogue and discussion led to better decisions that contributed to the success of The Men’s Wearhouse.
Unfortunately, this dynamic seems to have changed.
Just one month after the directors unanimously nominated me for reelection to the Board, last week they abruptly fired me from my management role and postponed the Annual Stockholder Meeting so they could nominate a new slate of directors that excluded me. To justify their actions, they now have tried to portray me as an obstinate former CEO, determined to regain absolute control by pushing a going private transaction for my own personal benefit and ego. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is that over the past two years, and particularly over recent months, I believe that the Board and management have been eroding the principles and values that have made The Men’s Wearhouse so successful for all stakeholders.
Earlier this year, concerned with the Board’s response to the short term pressures of Wall Street, I encouraged the Board to at least study a broader range of strategic alternatives beyond simply selling the K&G division, including the possibility of a going private transaction. Rather than thoughtfully evaluating the idea or even checking the market to see what value might be created through such strategic alternatives, the Board quickly and without the assistance of financial advisors simply rejected the idea, refused to even discuss the topic or permit me to collect and present to the Board any information about its possibilities and feasibility, and instead took steps to marginalize and then silence me.
Such behavior by the Board does not strike me as consistent with sound principles of good corporate governance or the core values of The Men’s Wearhouse, but instead suggests that the directors were more concerned with protecting their entrenched views and positions than considering the full range of possibilities that might benefit our shareholders and indeed all our stakeholders.
To be clear, at this point I have not concluded that taking The Men’s Wearhouse private is a better means of preserving the unique culture and values that have made the company so successful over the years. What I do know is that as a founder and large shareholder, I am greatly concerned about the future of the company if this culture and these values are lost, and believe that the Board should be open to at least consider the full range of possibilities that could optimize the future value of the company for all stakeholders.
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."
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He may not remember, but back in the 90's I was at a conference in Tampa. My suit was a mess after the flight, so I took it in to the Men's Warehouse and they pressed it for free. Mr. Zimmer was there that day and I expressed my thanks to him and his staff. Mr. Zimmer took the time to speak with me while my suit was being pressed. He asked me how his company could do better and what changes I felt would make his stores better. I had nothing to tell him, as I have always received great service from his stores. The fact that this multi-millionaire took the time to speak to me, a guy who has bought 5 or 6 suits from him, spoke greatly to me. Mr. Zimmer cares about the customer, something greatly lacking in today's business world.
I will not step foot in, or wear a suit from the Men's Warehouse until Mr. Zimmer is brought back to the company that HE started and HE founded. The other morons can go pack sand for all I care!
I always believed the business model that Mr. Zimmerman set forth was a huge success.
Without him, I will do business somewhere else. Good luck to you Mr. Zimmerman.
The stupid board members are as dumb as the the ones running/ruining Penny's.
Their egos and short sighted management skills will cause the stock to drop.
Mr. Zimmer, I applaud your integrity. You sir are a dying bread. I was raised with old scholl ethics that I still try to apply everyday. I get ridiculed and suffer loses professionally for sticking up for what I believe in. I may not get my rewards in this life, but God has a place for me one day. I pray that you can find piece at knowing the great things you accomplished in the past no matter what the future holds for. Don't compromise and don't give up. You are a good man that has integrity wich is rare in these days and times. Take cake and God Bless!!!!!!!
I too grew up watching Mr. Zimmer on TV and seeing his company grow.
It's a sad state to see what retail has become: Sell fast, sell cheap, sell a lot. Make profits to line our own pockets and forget customer or employee loyalty. Who cares if they go to another store, there's another chump who'll buy if we mark up the prices and let them think it's a great sale!
My husband always bought at MW and it was full service. Now I'm wary to see how the company is going to change in the coming months.
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