Longtime Gildan CEO Glenn Chamandy pushed out in boardroom shakeup

Former Fruit of the Loom executive Vince Tyra will be his replacement starting Feb. 12, company announces.

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Gildan Activewear co-founder and long-time boss Glenn Chamandy is out following a boardroom shakeup at the Montreal-based apparel maker.

“Yesterday, I received notice from the chairman of Gildan Activewear’s board of directors that the company was terminating my employment agreement without cause,” Chamandy said Monday in a statement. “It is unfortunate that my vision of the path forward has differed from that of other board members. This comes after 40 years of service in the impressively successful company founded by my family. I am immensely proud of the robust and highly competitive organization we built over more than four decades of unwavering efforts to be the best in every market where we compete.”

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Chamandy had been Gildan’s sole CEO since August 2004, when his older brother Greg — with whom he had been sharing the top position — left the company to pursue other business interests. At the time, the family controlled the company.

Both brothers created Gildan in 1984 after taking over the apparel business — then called Harley Inc. — that their grandfather had founded in 1946. They acquired a knitting mill and transformed Gildan into a vertically integrated apparel and sock manufacturer that would eventually go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1998 and operate production facilities in such locations as Central America and Bangladesh.

The CEO shuffle “comes as a surprise, particularly given Mr. Chamandy’s long-term role with the company,” Mark Petrie, an analyst at CIBC in Toronto, wrote Monday in a note to clients.

Gildan shares fell more than 10 per cent to $44.70 in early afternoon trading Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Chamandy’s ouster may have been caused by a disagreement over succession, Petrie added. The former CEO owns about 3.4 million Gildan shares, which represents about twi per cent of the company’s outstanding stock.

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“We believe a process had been underway and that ultimately there was a disagreement about the timing of a transition,” Petrie wrote. “It is also possible that there was a disagreement about the selection of the candidate. Given Mr. Chamandy’s history with the company and its many long-time executives, we surmise he may have favoured an internal replacement.”

Gildan on Monday confirmed Chamandy’s departure and the appointment of former Fruit of the Loom executive Vince Tyra as his replacement starting Feb. 12. Craig Leavitt, a Gildan director since 2018, will serve as interim head in the meantime, the company also said. Chamandy will no longer sit on the company’s board.

“Over the span of his 40-year career, Glenn has been a forerunner in our industry, taking Gildan from a small family-owned business to a leading apparel company with over US$3 billion in revenues,” chairman Donald Berg said in the statement. “We thank Glenn for his service and wish him well.”

No reason for the leadership change was given.

Tyra notably led clothing supplier Alphabroder for six years, overseeing a tripling in annual revenue. Gildan’s new CEO has a “deep understanding of the apparel industry from manufacturing processes to distribution and brand building,” the company said.

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Most recently, Tyra served as a senior vice-president of corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions at Houchens Industries, overseeing investments in various industry sectors including consumer products and retail.

“The board is confident that Vince is the right person to lead the company into the next stage of its evolution and growth,” Berg said. “He has an extensive career as a global organization leader with experience as an apparel industry executive, an operator, an investor and transitioning founder-led companies. Vince’s diverse professional background will provide the necessary leadership skills to propel Gildan to even greater success.”

In August, Gildan revised its full-year revenue and profit targets lower, citing unfavourable market conditions because of customers focusing on lower-priced products. Revenue in 2023 will be flat to down by “low-single digits,” compared with a previous target calling for “low-single-digit” growth, the company said at the time.

Profit margins at Gildan trail those of such competitors as Hanesbrands and PVH, and “we see little to suggest the firm has established an intangible asset or cost-based edge,” David Swartz, an analyst at Morningstar in Chicago, wrote in a report last month. “The branded market for underwear, socks, and bras is intensely competitive, and we believe Gildan’s attempts to build a brand name have largely failed,” he added.

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