retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Consider the case of George Zimmer, founder of Men's Wearhouse.

He created the company in 1973, built it into a 1,000-store chain, and stars in its commercials, closing each one with the catch phrase, "You're gonna like the way you look. I guarantee it."

At least, he used to.

Because this week, Zimmer was let go by the company that now owns Men's Wearhouse.

There were, apparently, conflicts about how to run the company, with some saying that Zimmer, 64, was having a hard time letting go of the reins as younger managers were brought in.

There was even some suggestion - though not officially - that a man with gray hair and a beard was the wrong spokesman for a company trying to appeal to men 20 and 20 years younger. One store even implied that Zimmer was no longer relevant ... which may be the worst thing you can say about an executive.

But here's where it gets interesting, as the New York Times reports that the company's board and the consuming public may have different definitions of what "relevant:" means:

After Zimmer's firing, the story says, "Reaction on social media continued to be fast and furious, indicating that Mr. Zimmer had made the jump from business executive to cultural icon. 'George Zimmer' was one of the top searches on Google on Wednesday, and news of the firing made the gossip sites TMZ and Gawker.

"And the Men’s Wearhouse Facebook page had more than 200 comments criticizing the company for ousting Mr. Zimmer, with sentiments like 'If George Zimmer isn’t coming back, neither am I!' and riffs on Mr. Zimmer’s signature ad closer like 'You’re going to miss the way I shopped. I guarantee it'."

Which simply underlines something that companies ought to know by now ... that consumers can be loud, demanding, and insistent about the products they buy and the companies they patronize.

The suspicion here is that this story is not yet finished. So stay tuned.
KC's View: