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    Men’s Wearhouse fires its founder

    George Zimmer (second from left) — founder, longtime pitchman, and chairman  of Men’s Wearhouse Inc. — was  ousted.
    Ben Margot/Associated Press, file
    George Zimmer (second from left) — founder, longtime pitchman, and chairman of Men’s Wearhouse Inc. — was ousted.

    NEW YORK — Men’s Wearhouse doesn’t like the way its founder looks anymore.

    The men’s clothier said Wednesday that it fired executive chairman and face of the company George Zimmer, 64, who has appeared in many of its TV commercials with the slogan ‘‘You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.’’

    The company announced the move in a terse statement that gave no reason for the abrupt firing of Zimmer, who built Men’s Wearhouse Inc. from one small Texas store using a cigar box as a cash register to one of North America’s largest men’s clothing sellers with 1,143 locations.


    The firing appears to end the career of one of TV’s most recognizable pitchmen. Zimmer’s gravelly-voiced slogan became almost a cultural touchstone, and his natty but down-to-earth charm made dressing sharply feel more accessible to men.

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    Zimmer said in a written statement that over the past several months he and the board of directors disagreed about the company’s direction.

    ‘‘Over the last 40 years, I have built The Men’s Wearhouse into a multi-billion dollar company with amazing employees and loyal customers who value the products and service they receive at The Men’s Wearhouse,’’ he said in a statement. But he noted that ‘‘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 by terminating me as an executive officer.’’

    The bad blood didn’t spook investors, though. Men’s Wearhouse shares slipped just 43 cents to close at $37.04. The stock is still near its 52-week high of $38.59 and ended Wednesday up about 19 percent since the start of the year.

    Beyond creating a successful company, Zimmer is known as something of a cowboy in the business world.


    He put his fortune to work behind California’s failed Proposition 19 in 2010, which would have legalized marijuana in California, where he lived. And Men’s Wearhouse didn’t conduct criminal background checks on new hires because Zimmer believed that everyone deserves a second chance.

    ‘‘He’s one of a kind,’’ said Richard Jaffe, a Stifel Nicolaus analyst. ‘‘He’s an entrepreneurial visionary. He made looking terrific available for every man in America.’’

    Through his personal publicist Zimmer declined to comment beyond the written statement. Jaffe speculated that Zimmer, who handed over his title as chief executive to Douglas Ewert in 2011, may have had difficulty letting go of the company’s reins.

    Like many clothing retailers, Men’s Wearhouse saw its sales and profits battered during the Great Recession, but in the past two years the firm’s business has been recovering. For the latest year ended Feb. 2, revenue rose more than 4 percent to $2.48 billion. Net income rose more than 9 percent to $131.7 million.

    The firing comes a week after Men’s Wearhouse reported that its fiscal first-quarter profit increased 23 percent.