Men’s Wearhouse Zimmer fires back at board on firing

New York -- George Zimmer, the founder and pitchman of Men’s Wearhouse, wasted no time in firing back at the company that fired him as executive chairman on Wednesday morning.  In a statement released to CNBC, Zimmer suggested that disagreements with the company’s board led to his abrupt termination:

"Over the last 40 years, I have built MW into a multi-billion dollar company with amazing employees and loyal customers who value the products and service they receive at MW,” Zimmer stated. “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 through termination as an executive officer.”

Men’s Wearhouse announced Zimmer’s termination early Wednesday morning. In a terse statement, the company gave no reason for  Zimmer’s  dismissal, and said the board expects to discuss with Zimmer the extent, if any, and terms of "his ongoing relationship" with the company.

Zimmer, 64, has long been the marketing face of he company – with his signature “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it” slogan and personable, easy-going manner.

Industry analysts found the timing of Zimmer’s firing strange as it occurred on the morning of the same day that the company's annual shareholder meeting had been scheduled to take place. As part of its Wednesday announcement, Men’s Wearhouse said it will postpone the meeting so that it can re-nominate the existing slate of directors without Zimmer. The new meeting date has not yet been set.

Men’s Wearhouse, which was founded by Zimmer in 1973, operates more than 1,100 stores, under its namesake, Moores and K&G banners.    

In 2011, Zimmer, who is Men’s Wearhouse’s seventh largest shareholder, handed over the CEO reins of the company to then-COO Douglas Ewert. The retailer recently reported that its fiscal first-quarter profit rose 23% percent, helped by stronger profit margins and an earlier prom season.