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J.Crew Group Lays Off 175 Staff, Replaces Women’s Designer

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J.Crew Group on Wednesday ousted its women’s design chief as part of a mass culling that saw its corporate staff shrink by 10 percent.

Somsack Sikhounmuong, head of design for the company’s contemporary brand, Madewell, has replaced Tom Mora, who joined J.Crew in 2001 and was promoted to womenswear head in 2011.

Sikhounmuong will offer “a fresh perspective across all categories” and will report to Jenna Lyons, the company’s president and executive creative director. Mora, meanwhile, is leaving J.Crew.

The news followed last week’s disappointing quarterly results that saw the privately held retailer’s net losses plummet to $462.41 million, compared to $30.1 million last year, while sales at its namesake chains slipped 5 percent to $508.7 million. Madewell sales, however, jumped 33 percent to $61.9 million during the same period.

Further cuts were made across the company in such areas as store operations, production, sourcing and merchandising, eliminating around 175 open and filled full-time positions, primarily from its corporate headquarters in New York.

“We are making meaningful and strategic changes across our organization to better position us for future growth,” J.Crew chairman and CEO Millard Drexler said in a statement, noting that the layoffs were necessary. “With Somsack in his new role, we will continue to focus on making critical improvements to our J.Crew women’s assortment including fit, design aesthetic and styling.”

Joyce Lee, a senior member of Madewell’s design team and whose resume includes stints at Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs, will succeed Sikhounmuong.

In other news, J.Crew Group plans to open 52 stores in 2015, including 11 J.Crew locations (six internationally), 21 J.Crew Factory off-price outlets and 20 Madewells, bringing the latter’s store count to 108. The company currently operates 283 J.Crew stores and 144 Factory outlets.

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