George Zimmer, the founder and former executive chairman of Men's Wearhouse, issued an ultimatum to his colleagues on the board of directors, according to a statement from the board released Tuesday morning.
"Mr. Zimmer presented the Board with the choice of either a) continuing to support our CEO and the management team on the successful path they had been taking, or b) effectively re-instating Mr. Zimmer as the sole decision maker," the board said in the statement.
They chose to dump Zimmer.
Last week, Zimmer was unceremoniously fired as executive chairman of the company he founded 40 years ago. Under Zimmer, Men's Wearhouse became one of the largest speciality men's retailers with 1,143 stores across the country -- a count that includes Moores and K&G Stores in addition to the namesake chain.
He was the face of the Men's Wearhouse brand, appearing in commercials and touting the tagline, "You're going to like the way you look -- I guarantee it."
Initially, Men's Wearhouse didn't provide a reason for the firing, instead choosing to release a terse statement announcing Zimmer's departure. The founder shot back, accusing the board of attempting to mute his voice, before quitting the retailer's board of directors outright.
"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 by terminating me as an executive officer," Zimmer said in a statement.
The statement from the board describes a deep rift between the board and Zimmer over a variety of strategic initiatives, and a fight for power at the top rungs of the company.
Zimmer hand-picked his successor, Doug Ewert, when he stepped down from the CEO role in 2011. The board contends that he had trouble handing over the reins of the company.
"Mr. Zimmer had difficulty accepting the fact that Men's Wearhouse is a public company with an independent Board of Directors and that he has not been the Chief Executive Officer for two years," the board said. "He advocated for significant changes that would enable him to regain control, but ultimately he was unable to convince any of the Board members or senior executives that his positions were in the best interests of employees, shareholders or the company's future."
According to the board's statement, Zimmer refused to support the management team unless they agreed to do his bidding. He wanted power to veto corporate decisions, including executive compensation. They also clashed over the fate of K&G -- a men’s, women’s and children’s apparel chain owned by Men's Wearhouse. Plus, the board claims that Zimmer argued for a sale of Men's Wearhouse to an investment group, even though the board disagreed vehemently.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Zimmer wouldn't accept anything other than full control of the company and the Board was left with no choice but to terminate him as Executive Chairman," the board said.
Representatives for Zimmer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.