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Men's Wearhouse fires founder, pitchman George Zimmer

By 69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 19 2013 11:43:26 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 19 2013 11:55:31 AM CDT
George Zimmer

AP

FREMONT, Calif. -

Men's Wearhouse executive chairman George Zimmer has been "terminated," the clothing retailer said Wednesday.

Zimmer opened the company's first store in Houston in 1973. The chain has since grown to become one of the nation's largest specialty retailers in men's clothing, with more than 1,100 locations in North America, including stores in Berks County and the Lehigh Valley.

Zimmer has been the bearded face of Men's Wearhouse in television ads for years, famously promising men, "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it."

The company's media representatives declined to say why it fired the co-founder.

"The Board [of Directors] expects to discuss with Mr. Zimmer the extent, if any, and terms of his ongoing relationship with the company," the retailer said in a prepared statement posted on its website.

The company also postponed its annual shareholders meeting, originally scheduled for Wednesday, "to re-nominate the existing slate of directors without Mr. Zimmer."

Zimmer owns 3.6 percent of the company's shares, making him the largest single shareholder, according to Lionshares. The stock was down 1.8 percent in early trading on Wall Street.

In an interview with Fortune magazine in 2010, Zimmer explained how he got into the clothing business in the 1970s, selling suit samples out of his car trunk to department stores before opening his first Men's Wearhouse. He said his chain rents out one out of three tuxedos in the U.S. and Canada.

He also said that he and the ad agency Red Ball Tiger came up with his "I guarantee it" slogan in 1997, targeted toward men who were self-conscious about their appearance.

In a separate interview with Business 2.0, he said that he doesn't run criminal background checks on prospective employees, but nonetheless loses less revenue to theft than other retailers.

"I believe in giving people a second chance," said Zimmer, a recovering alcoholic.