George Zimmer, known to even the least discerning men's suit shopper as the man behind Men's Warhouse's ubiquitous "you're going to like the way you look, I guarantee it" ad spots, has just been fired from the company he founded exactly 40 years ago this year.
In a brief, cryptic statement, the discount apparel chain said it had "terminated George Zimmer from his position as Executive Chairman," adding that the Board of Directors "expects to discuss with Mr. Zimmer the extent, if any, and terms of his ongoing relationship with the Company."
It's unclear who will be doing the discussing, as the company said it will also be postponing its annual shareholders meeting so it can "re-nominate the existing slate of directors without Mr. Zimmer."
The LA Times says that, prior to today's surprise announcement, Men's Wearhouse, which also runs K&G Superstores and the Canadian offshoot Moores Clothing for Men, reported a relatively strong first quarter, with revenue up 5.1% to 616.5 million.
Shares were also up 20% on the year.
Zimmer, 64, started the company in Houston in 1973, and served as its CEO from 1991 to 2011, when he became its executive chairman.
Though the reason for his termination remains unclear, it's known that he will not be leaving the company empty-handed.
USA Today reports:
Zimmer earned nearly $2 million last year in pay, bonuses and other compensation. Men's Wearhouse will owe Zimmer $250,000 annually for four years under a licensing deal for his image in advertising and marketing efforts, according to the proxy. He's also due termination pay and benefits valued at about $2.7 million.
UPDATE: Zimmer has just released a statement claiming he was terminated for speaking his mind to the Board about "the direction the company is currently heading."
Read it in full below:
Over the last 40 years, I have built The Men's Wearhouse into a multi-billion dollar company with amazing employees and loyal customers who value the products and service they receive at The Men's Wearhouse. Over the past several months I have expressed my concerns to the Board about the direction the company is currently heading. Instead of fostering the kind of dialogue in the Boardroom that has, in part, contributed to our success, the Board has inappropriately chosen to silence my concerns by terminating me as an executive officer.
[photo via AP]