“Finally” was a common sentiment when J.Crew Group named former Victoria’s Secret executive Jan Singer CEO in February of this year. The long-struggling retailer hadn’t had someone in that position for over a year at that point and was in need of leadership. But only 10 months later, Singer is out, having “elected to pursue other endeavors,” according to a press release.
This time, though, J.Crew won’t be operating without a CEO for an extended period: The company has already named Singer’s successor.
Libby Wadle, who has spent 16 years at the company, most recently as president and CEO of Madewell, will take over. (As a reminder, J.Crew once planned to spin off Madewell into its own public company.) Previously, she was president of J.Crew, which included oversight of Madewell. It appears that Wadle will not be replaced at Madewell and both brands will return to having unified leadership.
“To be successful in today’s retail environment, brands must have a strong sense of purpose, deep connection with their customers, and an organizational structure that rewards creativity, agility and innovation,” Wadle said, in a statement. “Moving forward as a company under unified leadership, we will harness the power of our collective platforms and talented teams to ensure our brands can continue to inspire and grow.”
Kevin Ulrich, Chairman of J.Crew’s Board of Directors said of the appointment: “Libby’s connectivity to the J.Crew and Madewell brands, proven ability to build community both inside and outside the organization, and track record of delivering excellent operating and financial performance make her the ideal person to lead J.Crew Group. Importantly, we thank Jan for her dedication and contributions to J.Crew and her partnership in leading the Company through a challenging year in our industry. We wish her the best in her future endeavors.”
It was indeed a pretty bad time for Singer to join a retailer that was already struggling. In May, J.Crew was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which it exited in September. And it was only last week that Business of Fashion published a piece examining what Singer’s turnaround strategy might be. It’s hard to say what her impact on the company has been after this short tenure — aside from simply keeping it afloat.