After 50 years leading Perry Ellis International, Inc., founder and CEO George Feldenkreis announced he will step down at the end of his contract next January. He will be succeeded by Oscar Feldenkreis, effective at the beginning of the next fiscal year.
Oscar Feldenkreis joined Perry Ellis full-time in 1980. He has been involved in all aspects of the company’s operations and has served as president and chief operating officer since 1993. He has played a key role in expanding the scope of the business beyond private-label distribution as Perry Ellis successfully branched into branded men’s and women’s apparel.
“We have made considerable progress over the past years to drive revenues and improve profitability, and I believe there is more to be accomplished,” Oscar Feldenkreis said. “Going forward, we will remain focused on continuing to meet the changing needs of our consumers and to grow and build value for our shareholders by optimizing our portfolio, driving international growth, expanding our direct-to-customer footprint, expanding gross-margins and generating additional cost savings.”
George Feldenkreis will transition to executive chairman of the board and will fill an integral role in strategic planning and the development of M&A, international, licensing and other growth opportunities where his experience and knowledge of Perry Ellis and the apparel industry can help the Company create value for its shareholders.
In a statement, George Feldenkreis said, “We have grown from being a small importer of guayaberas and children’s wear in 1967 to being a leading international designer and distributor of globally recognized apparel brands. For the past two years, we have worked very hard to return the Company to a more profitable path.”
With Perry Ellis’ stock price appreciating approximately 87 percent over the past 12 months and currently trading at its highest level in four years, George Feldenkreis said now is the right time for the company to put a formal succession plan in place to ensure a smooth leadership transition.
Joseph P. Lacher, outgoing lead independent director of the Perry Ellis Board, described George Feldenkreis as a “great American success story.”
George Feldenkreis founded Perry Ellis as Supreme International Corp. in Miami in 1967 after fleeing Cuba in 1961. The company eventually expanded from importing guayaberas—the pleated, four-pocket shirts rooted in Latin culture—to producing sportswear that appealed to a broader audience. George, together with Oscar, grew the business model into branded apparel and multi-channel distribution, ultimately launching its first major brand in 1990 and going public three years later.
In 1999, the company acquired Perry Ellis brand and changed its name to Perry Ellis International. Under George’s leadership, the business has grown from $33 million in sales in fiscal 1992 to $890 million in fiscal 2015 with well-known men’s and women’s apparel brands.
Latcher added, “Today, many of the brands that make up the Perry Ellis portfolio are synonymous with American fashion. George’s knowledge of the apparel business, his ability to deliver outstanding products at great value that resonate with consumers and his commitment and dedication have positioned the Company as an apparel industry leader that has generated significant value for our shareholders. The Board is very pleased that George will continue to be actively involved in Perry Ellis as Executive Chairman so that we will continue to benefit from his strategic insights and extensive knowledge of the Company and the apparel industry.”
The company also announced new nominees to its board of directors, including Oscar Feldenkreis; Bruce J. Klatsky, former CEO and chairman of Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH); and Michael W. Rayden, former president and CEO of Tween Brands, Inc. and director of Ascena Retail Group, Inc.
Klatsky and Rayden bring to the Perry Ellis Board extensive experience in apparel, wholesaling, brand building, licensing and retailing, as well as experience serving on the boards of directors of companies in the apparel, retail and other industries. If elected, Klatsky and Rayden would be independent directors and would replace current directors Joe Arriola and Lacher both of whom, following years of dedicated service to Perry Ellis, have chosen to retire from the Perry Ellis Board following the 2015 Annual Meeting.