J.Crew CEO lays out her comeback plan
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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Serena Williams exits Wimbledon, Olympian moms have to make a tough choice, and J.Crew’s CEO has a big challenge ahead of her. Have a good Wednesday.
– Call it a comeback. Do you have a J.Crew breakup story? Libby Wadle, CEO of the retailer’s parent company, bets you do.
“Everyone has a J.Crew love story, but more and more people, I think, have had a J.Crew breakup story. They want to find that love connection again,” she said.
Wadle took over as CEO of the $2.5 billion J.Crew Group in November, just after the company emerged from bankruptcy protection. In her first in-depth interview since becoming chief executive, the 48-year-old told Fortune‘s Phil Wahba her plan for reviving the company after Chapter 11, steadying the C-suite after years of turnover, and satisfying shoppers in the post-pandemic era. (Clothing sales overall are already starting to come back.)
“At the end of the day for J.Crew, it’s going to be about great product, great storytelling, and great design, and really getting that energy back in the brand,” she says.
She wants to return J.Crew to its “casual roots,” but she’s also injected it with some new blood. She named Brendon Babenzien, a key force behind the ascent of ultra-cool street-wear label Supreme, as head of J.Crew men’s business.
Wadle is well-suited to tackle one of the tougher jobs in retail. She spent three years as CEO of J.Crew’s denim-focused and wildly successful Madewell brand, and so knows “where all the bones were buried,” as Phil reports.
“I do understand the fundamentals of the business; that’s helpful,” says Wadle. “I’ve been through a lot of it, and you don’t have that knee-jerk leadership that tends to happen sometimes.”
You can read Phil’s full story here.
The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
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ON MY RADAR
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Combating burnout as a single working parent Harvard Business Review
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