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June 19, 2013

Men's Wearhouse founder George Zimmer fired

TORONTO — Men's Wearhouse's board fired George Zimmer, the founder and public face of the company, as executive chairman without saying why and delayed its annual shareholder meeting. Zimmer, in a statement, said the board had "silenced his concerns" about the company's direction.

The board expects to discuss with Zimmer the extent and terms of his future relationship with the company, Houston-based Men's Wearhouse said Wednesday in a statement. The company didn't provide a reason for the firing. Ken Dennard, a Men's Wearhouse spokesman who works for Dennard - Lascar Associates, declined to comment.

Men's Wearhouse is parting ways with the man who founded the company in 1973 and stars in its commercials, delivering the signature tag lines, "You're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it," in his baritone voice. While Zimmer, 64, had been scaling back his professional responsibilities, including leaving the board of online education provider Apollo Group in March, the Men's Wearhouse statement is puzzling, said Richard Jaffe, an analyst at Stifel Financial Corp.

"Over the past several months I have expressed my concerns to the Board about the direction the company is currently heading." Zimmer said in a statement Wednesday, according to CNBC. "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."

The new date, time and location of the annual meeting, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, will be announced "shortly," the company said, without providing a date.

Zimmer owns about 3.5 percent of the company's shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

He opened the first Men's Wearhouse in Houston with his college roommates, selling $10 pants and $25 polyester sport coats, according to the company's website. He began appearing in the company's commercials in 1986, extolling the company's low prices.

Men's Wearhouse now operates 1,143 stores selling suits, coats, clothing and accessories through its namesake, Moores, Tux and K&G chains.

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