J.Crew is trying to be more like Starbucks to win back customers

In 2017, CEO Mickey Drexler (right) and longtime Creative Director Jenna Lyons (left) stepped down.

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In 2017, CEO Mickey Drexler (right) and longtime Creative Director Jenna Lyons (left) stepped down.
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Facebook/J.Crew

  • J.Crew has hired a former Starbucks executive to be its chief experience officer.
  • The company is making big investments to turn around its business.
  • Adam Brotman, who was at Starbucks for nearly nine years, was at one time responsible for the coffee giant’s digital platform.

J.Crew is repairing its executive team after the sudden departure of longtime CEO Mickey Drexler and creative director Jenna Lyons.

The struggling retailer has created a new role to aid in its turnaround and hired Starbucks executive Adam Brotman to fill it, Recode reported.

Brotman will take on the role of president and chief experience officer, which is targeted at creating a better interaction between customers and the company.

J.Crew has struggled in recent years: same-store sales have been down at J.Crew for the past three years, dropping by 8% in 2016 following a 10% decrease the year before. In its most recent earnings report, in the third quarter of 2017, sales had dropped by 12%. The company has not yet released its fourth-quarter results.

Sales growth peaked at the company in 2004 and 2014 with Drexler and Lyons at the helm. The store increasingly became more upscale, and prices crept up. But customers claimed the brand had become unaffordable and impractical.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in May 2017, Drexler said that the retailer’s biggest mistake over the last few years was that it had raised prices at a time when customers were increasingly cost-conscious.

“We gave a perception of being a higher-priced company than we were – in our catalog, online, and in our general presentation,” Drexler told the Journal. “Very big mistake.”

The company is now working hard to execute a turnaround by lowering prices and bringing back staple pieces.

And now, it’s investing in its management team.

Adam Brotman started his career at Starbucks in 2009 and at one time oversaw the digital side of the business. He’s best known for spearheading the launch of Starbucks’ iPhone app. Mobile pay now accounts for about 9% of Starbucks’ US orders. The ordering service has also been problematic for the brand as it has created massive queues and bottlenecks during busy hours, Business Insider reported in 2017.

“Adam’s experience with global field operations and cutting-edge consumer-facing digital platforms makes him an invaluable partner in shaping and driving J.Crew Group’s strategic initiatives to the next level,” J.Crew CEO Jim Brett said in a statement to Recode.

He continued: “Adam will help us establish customer relationships that leverage all our channels, helping us to serve them in ways that are more meaningful and relevant to how they shop and live.”

J.Crew did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.