Joe Fresh Founder Stepping Down

Joe Mimran was also the Canadian retailer's creative director.
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Chantal Fernandez
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Joe Mimran was also the Canadian retailer's creative director.
Joe Fresh founder Joe Mimran. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Joe Fresh founder Joe Mimran. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Joe is leaving Joe Fresh

The affordable Canadian retailer confirmed, Tuesday, that founder and creative director Joseph Mimran is "stepping away from the day-to-day business," according to a statement from the company. He'll be succeeded by current President Mario Grauso.

Mimran, who created Club Monaco and sold it to Polo Ralph Lauren for $52.5 million in 1999, founded Joe Fresh in 2006 for Loblaws, one of Canada's largest grocery store chains. Its brightly colored, simple and trendy wares were sold only in supermarkets across the country before the company opened its own stores throughout Canada and, more recently, the U.S. In a 2008 interview, Mimran explained the strategy behind the brand's aesthetic: "It certainly couldn’t be an all-black apparel line – you’re in a food store," he said. "It’s got to cut across cultural barriers across Canada. It’s got to cross not just demographics, but social demographics." 

So far, it's worked: The first U.S. location opened in 2011 and in March 2013, the brand partnered with J.C. Penney to sell at over 650 locations. Toronto's National Post reported that that, despite major problems at the department store since then, Joe Fresh benefitted from sales on its e-commerce site and increased brand awareness.

The company's growth also survived a major PR problem: in April 2013, a building full of garment and apparel factories in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,100 people and injuring 2,500 more. Joe Fresh was among the fast fashion brands having products manufactured in the building. As a result, it overhauled its factory building construction standards and encouraged other retailers to do the same. The company pledged to stay in Bangladesh and improve conditions by hiring a manager to oversee sourcing and standards there. 

Joe Fresh announced its biggest expansion yet less than a year after the tragedy in February 2014, with plans for new stores in 24 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. So far, it has already opened locations in South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

While Grauso is taking over Mimran's title as creative director, in addition to his responsibilities as president, he will not be designing clothes. According to WWD, the company brought on Henriette Ernst, formerly of Calvin Klein and Céline, to oversee womenswear, and Jose Abellar, formerly of Old Navy, for menswear and merchandising sometime last year as part of Mimran's succession plan.

It's not clear why Mimran left, but if his resumé of retail success is any indication, perhaps he's off to start another successful global retailer.