J. Crew mulls IPO for Madewell brand
J. Crew on Thursday announced that it is "actively exploring strategic alternatives to maximize the value of the company," including a possible initial public offering of its Madewell brand, which could happen as early as the second half of 2019, according to a company press release. J. Crew did not immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for further comment.
Additionally, current President and COO Michael Nicholson has been named interim CEO of J. Crew Group, effective immediately. Nicholson's appointment replaces the Office of the CEO, which previously comprised four executives who had led the company since November 2018.
President and Chief Experience Officer Adam Brotman resigned and will be leaving the company on April 19.
J. Crew delivered a flurry of announcements on Thursday in its ongoing attempts to steady the corporation, including floating the possibility of an IPO for its profitable Madewell brand. The company is reportedly once again in restructuring talks as it deals with $1.7 billion in debt and the reality of having approximately $25 million of cash on hand, factors that have also landed it on bankruptcy watch lists for some time.
"If executed, a Madewell IPO could improve the capital structure and better position the company to address its debt," said Moody's Corporation Vice President Raya Sokolyanska in a statement emailed to Retail Dive.
Last week Madewell announced its first ever CEO, Libby Wadle. Wadle served as president of the brand since 2017 and worked as J. Crew brand president since 2013. Prior to joining J. Crew, Waddle was the division vice president of women's merchandising at Coach Inc. and also held merchandising positions at Gap Inc.
J. Crew has been attempting to stabilize the brand after a run of dramatic events and departures, starting with the November resignation of then-CEO James Brett after only a little more than a year in the role. The company also weathered a technical meltdown when its website crashed over Black Friday and experienced technical glitches throughout the biggest shopping weekend of 2018. Then, early in 2019, chairman and former CEO Millard "Mickey" Drexler stepped down from his board role as well.
Madewell was Drexler's brainchild, a sub-brand designed to capture a slice of the apparel market different from its parent — much like his similar project, Old Navy, when he led Gap Inc. Old Navy, like Madewell, evolved to become the company's better-performing brand, and in February Gap Inc. said it would spin off Old Navy as its own company.
In a statement regarding the future of Madewell, Chairman of the Board of Directors Chad Leat said that focusing on the brand "will further enhance our financial flexibility to support a turnaround at J.Crew."
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