November 21, 1948 |
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Washington University in St. Louis|
George Zimmer (born November 21, 1948) is an American entrepreneur, the founder and former Executive Chairman of the Men's Wearhouse, a men's clothing retailer that has more than 1,200 stores  across the U.S. and Canada under the brands Moores, Men's Wearhouse and K&G Superstores. After leaving his executive position with the company, he continued as the company's spokesperson, until he was fired on June 19, 2013.
George Zimmer was born in New York City to a Jewish family. Zimmer attended primary school in Scarsdale, New York, before studying at Washington University in St. Louis where he was a member of the Phi Chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu, and where he received an A.B. in Economics in 1970. Upon graduation, he worked as a substitute teacher before joining his father in the clothing manufacturing business. Later in the early 1970s, he worked as a purchasing agent and salesman in Hong Kong.
Zimmer and his college roommates opened the first Men's Wearhouse store in 1973 in Houston, Texas. Since 1986, Zimmer has narrated and appeared in many of his company's television commercials, usually closing with the company slogan: "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it."
As of a May 9, 2013 proxy filing, Zimmer owned 1.8 million shares of Men's Wearhouse stock, a stake in the company of approximately 3.5 percent. The day prior to his June 19 firing Men's Wearhouse stock closed at $37.47, indicating a value of Zimmer's holdings in the company of $67.45 million. The company made $2.48 billion in sales for the fiscal year ending in February 2013.
On June 19, 2013, The Men's Wearhouse board dismissed Zimmer for unspecified reasons and declined to offer any explanation in its press release. The press release stated that terms of Zimmer's severance were still to be discussed with him.
Though the brief press release did not cite reasons for Zimmer's termination, Zimmer himself did shed a little light on the issue to CNBC. "Over the last 40 years, I have built MW into a multibillion-dollar company with amazing employees and loyal customers who value the products and service they receive at MW. 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," Zimmer said to CNBC.
On June 25, 2013, the company, responding to public pressure for more information following its terse original statement, released a detailed explanation of its actions. The statement asserts that Mr. Zimmer insisted on full-control of the public company. "Neither the Board nor management desired a total breakdown of the relationship between Mr. Zimmer and the company. In our discussions with Mr. Zimmer, we made considerable efforts to find a solution that would have allowed him to continue to have a significant involvement with Men's Wearhouse. 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." This statement by the board, however, is in conflict with the claims made by Mr. Zimmer.
Management, activism and personal life
Zimmer's style of corporate management (for example, the company's June 2004 nomination of spiritual guru Deepak Chopra to its board) is peculiar in the view of some, while others perceive his style as cutting-edge.
Zimmer's experience caring for his mother, who died of cancer, led him to support research into the therapeutic use of MDMA, and for his efforts to legalize cannabis (for instance, by making donations equaling $170,500 to support California's Proposition 19 in 2010).
- Marcus Wohlsen, Soros Gives $1 Million to Pro-Pot Campaign," AP/J Weekly, Oct. 28, 2010.
- Louise Lee, "Spiffing Up Men's Wearhouse", BusinessWeek, November 1, 2004.
- Anne D'innocenzio, "George Zimmer, Men's Wearhouse Founder And 'You're Going To Like The Way You Look' Guy, Fired." AP/Huffington Post, June 19, 2013.
- Mercury News
- USA Today
- Zink, Janet. "Party pill gets tryout in therapy", St. Petersburg Times 9 May 2005.
- Hoefell, John. "Measure to legalize marijuana will be on California's November ballot." 25 March 2010.
- Wohlsen, Marcus. "Soros gives $1M to Calif. pot legalization measure." The Associated Press, 26 October 2010.