Jeremy Reitman (right), of Reitmans Canada Inc., and Stephen Reitman (left), his brother and vice-president of Reitmans, are shown at the company’s annual meeting in Montreal, June 6, 2007. Jeremy Reitman, the CEO of Montreal-based womenswear company Reitmans, has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Ray

Reitmans CEO Jeremy Reitman has died, company announces

When he took control, the company was growing, from 854 stores in 2004 to 968 in 2011

Jeremy Reitman, a stalwart of the Canadian womenswear scene who guided Montreal-based Reitmans Ltd. through the so-called retail apocalypse, has died.

The company announced the death of its chairman and CEO in a brief statement on Sunday, saying the entire company mourns for him.

“The board of directors, management team and employees of the company extend their deepest sympathies to the Reitman family.”

Reitman was also a loving father, stepfather and grandfather, according to an obituary published on the website of a Montreal funeral home.

“A passionate golfer, skier, Moishes regular, toastmaster and philatelist, Jeremy was also a strong supporter of Israel and Jewish causes and a most devoted friend,” reads the notice, which did not specify his age.

“Jeremy will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by his many nieces, nephews, cousins and all who knew him.”

The obituary says Reitman died peacefully in Florida on Saturday. It says he was an alumnus of Dartmouth College, McGill Law, Westmount High School and Camp Kennebec.

He was also the grandson of Reitmans Ltd. founders Herman and Sarah Reitman. His brother, Stephen Reitman, serves as chief operating officer.

Jeremy Reitman was head of the 93-year-old family business for a decade, serving as president before taking over as CEO and chairman. He steered the company through a rapidly changing retail landscape, contending with an influx of U.S. competitors who set their sights on the Canadian market and the rise of e-commerce. Amid the ruins of Canadian retailers, Reitmans is one of the few domestic chains still standing, though it is shrinking.

When he took control, the company was growing, from 854 stores in 2004 to 968 in 2011. Today, there are 587.

In 2011, the company announced that it would close its Cassis stores, which were geared towards women over 40. Three years later, it said it would also shutter Smart Set locations, which had targeted young urban professionals.

Five separate banners remain, including Reitmans, Penningtons and Addition Elle, the latter two brands focused on the plus-size market.

With an eye to the rise of Lululemon and the ”athleisure wear” trend, Reitman also led the company’s foray into the activewear market with the launch of its Hyba line. There were briefly standalone Hyba stores, but now the clothes are sold online and in Reitmans locations.

Under Jeremy Reitman’s tenure, the company also gained attention for a series of notable ads in the mid-aughts that pitted Reitmans’ wearable fashions against haute couture looks.

“Reitmans: One. Haute Couture: Zero,” one of the two judges would inevitably say, before explaining that the company’s clothes are “designed for real life.”

In a December 2006 interview with The Canadian Press, Jeremy Reitman said the ads — and the middle-class ethos behind them — boosted sales for the company.

“We’ve always built our business on the middle and the lower middle because that’s where the money is, that’s where the people are and that’s where the broad base of customers are,” he said at the time.

Nearly a decade later, in 2015, the company tapped Meghan Markle as a spokeswoman.

Before the now-Duchess of Sussex began dating Prince Harry, she designed a capsule collection for Reitmans, and in a series of ad spots, she proudly told viewers that “It’s Reitmans. Really.”

A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Reitman’s death on Sunday. A funeral is scheduled for Jan. 2 in Montreal. The family will then sit shiva in his home.

ALSO READ: Animals, house parties, manhunts: Top 10 most read stories across B.C. in 2019

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trail Shoppers Drug Mart offers virtual doctor appointments

Most Shoppers locations in B.C. will offer online appts by Aug. 4

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Two search and rescue calls involving children end with happy outcomes

The incidents took place in Trail and Salmo area on July 5 and 6

Province releases Columbia River Treaty public feedback report

Reservoir levels, fair compensation for impacted communities, among many issues raised

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read