* Company gives no reason for his termination
* Zimmer says board is trying to silence him over his
* Zimmer founded company in 1973, had been executive
chairman since 2011
* Shares fall as much as 6 pct
By Siddharth Cavale
June 19 Apparel retailer Men's Wearhouse Inc
fired Executive Chairman George Zimmer, the face of the
company he founded 40 years ago, sending its shares down as much
as 6 percent.
Men's Wearhouse, in a terse statement on Wednesday, gave no
reason for his dismissal but Zimmer accused the board of trying
to silence him for expressing concerns about the direction of
the company he started in Texas in 1973.
"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...", he said in a
statement after the company announced his surprise ouster.
Zimmer did not provide any details about his concerns.
Men's Wearhouse also said it had postponed its annual
shareholder meeting scheduled for Wednesday in order to
renominate existing directors without Zimmer.
"The board expects to discuss with Mr. Zimmer the extent, if
any, and terms of his ongoing relationship with the company,"
Men's Wearhouse said.
The company's statement made no mention of Zimmer's history
with the retailer or his contribution to the company.
Efforts to reach Zimmer, who said he had been expressing his
concerns over several months, were unsuccessful.
A query posted on the "Ask George" section of the company's
website, did not elicit an immediate response.
The bearded, raspy-voiced Zimmer, 64, has appeared in the
company's commercials since 1985 and is known for his line:
"You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it."
The retailer said in its annual report in March that he was
central to its public image and advertising.
" ... The extended loss of the services of Mr. Zimmer or
other key personnel could have a material adverse effect on the
securities markets' view of our prospects and materially harm
our business," the annual report said.
However, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Richard Jaffe said Zimmer's
departure would probably not have a big impact on the company as
it has the legal right to his image and 500 hours of footage.
"We believe he has been easing himself out of day to day
work over the last year," Jaffe wrote in a note. He speculated
that Zimmer may have had difficulty letting go of leadership of
the business, and that this had led to conflict with the board.
Men's Wearhouse shares recovered much of their early losses
to be down less than 2 percent at $36.82 at midday on the New
York Stock Exchange. The stock had risen about 19 percent this
year up to Tuesday's close.
Men's Wearhouse, based in Fremont, California, operates more
than 1,100 stores under the Men's Wearhouse, Moores and K&G
The company, which had annual sales of $2.38 billion in
2012, reported better-than-expected results in its most recent
quarter, with sales rising more than 5 percent to $616.5
"I founded this company 40 years ago on the belief that
employees should enjoy coming to work every day," Zimmer said in
a Jan. 17 statement after Fortune magazine included the company
on its list of "100 best companies to work for."
Zimmer's 3.52 percent stake in Men's Wearhouse as of March
31 made him the largest individual shareholder, and
seventh-biggest shareholder overall, according to Thomson
He was president from 1974 to 1997 and chief executive from
1991 until June 2011 when he became executive chairman.
A well-known proponent of legalizing marijuana, Zimmer was
also an independent director at for-profit education provider
Apollo Group Inc from 2006 until March 21 this year.