George Zimmer, founder of The Men's Wearhouse, is talking to private equity groups about buying the company he started.
Photograph by Getty Images
By John Kell
May 23, 2016

George Zimmer, famous for television ads hawking Men’s Wearhouse, is back with a new guarantee. Zimmer is angling to win back control of the company he co-founded in 1973.

In a broad interview with Inc., Zimmer says he’s been in talks with private-equity firms to try to win back control of Men’s Wearhouse, now owned by parent Tailored Brands, with a possible acquisition. If such a deal were to occur, Zimmer said the existing board and management would “mostly have to be replaced.” That likely isn’t a surprise: Men’s Wearhouse and the company’s founder had an ugly breakup.

Shares of Tailored Brands grew on the news, most recently up roughly 2% in Monday afternoon trading.

Men’s Wearhouse has had a turbulent few years in the press. The terse termination of Zimmer led to some social media outrage when it was announced. Then, the company engaged in an ugly back-and-forth merger with men’s retailing peer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, which each exchanged counter bids as they aimed to consolidate their mature market.

Ultimately, Men’s Wearhouse prevailed, paying about $1.8 billion for Jos. A. Bank. That deal has proven to be a disaster. As Fortune has reported, ending popular discounts at Jos. A. Bank drove away customers and tanked sales at the chain. And earlier this year, Tailored Brands said it would shutter 250 Jos. A. Bank stores. The parent company, which is the largest specialty retailer of men’s suits, also booked nearly $1.2 billion in impairment charges tied to the acquisition.

Any potential Zimmer-driven PE deal would come when Tailored Brands finds itself in the discount bins. The retailer is only worth about $655 million today. At the time of the Jos. A. Bank deal, Men’s Wearhouse alone was worth some $2.6 billion (and it paid $1.8 billion for its rival).

Zimmer also told Inc. that if he were to get control of his old company again, he would want to combine the business with startups he has since founded, including zTailors – a website and app that helps connect customers with on-demand tailors who make house calls.


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