Update: On Wednesday, Gildan’s board issued an open letter to shareholders, doubling down on its decision to remove co-founder Glenn J. Chamandy as president and CEO despite several investors urging the company to reinstate him. The board claimed that Chamandy has “struggled to find additional avenues of long-term organic growth” over the last four years.

  • As a result, the board says it has “had a robust succession process underway for nearly two years.”
  • The board also supported an earlier report that claimed Chamandy gave the it an ultimatum to work toward a major acquisition or else he’d resign.

Gildan Activewear
 (PPAI 250187, S13) – ranked the No. 38 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100 – has received blowback after the Montreal, Canada-based company ousted co-founder and former president, CEO and director Glenn J. Chamandy.

Five investment firms – Jarislowsky Fraser, Browning West, Pzena Investment Management, Cooke & Bieler and Turtle Creek Asset Management – have opposed the decision, calling for Chamandy to be reinstated, Bloomberg reported.

  • Collectively, the firms hold about 25% of Gildan’s shares.

In a letter to Gildan’s board of directors, Browing West claimed the board’s “poor handling of succession and questionable judgement” have put the business and shareholders at “great risk.” As a result, Browning West has demanded Chamandy’s return, Gildan chairman Donald Berg’s dismissal and Browning West co-founder Peter Lee’s appointment to the board.

“Shareholders should decide the future if they’re not happy with the CEO,” Chamandy told Fashion Network. “The process was flawed, and they didn’t really have a very good plan.”

Controversial Succession

Gildan announced last week that Chamandy had “left” the firm and that Vince Tyra, a veteran of both the apparel and financial industries, had been appointed his successor, effective February 12, 2024.

  • Craig A. Leavitt, a company director since 2018, will serve as interim president and CEO until Tyra assumes his new position.

However, Chamandy, who spent four decades at Gildan and nearly 20 years at the helm, argued that he was terminated “without cause” by the firm. “It’s unfortunate that my vision of the path forward has differed from that of other board members,” Chamandy said.

Berg has countered that “our succession plan has been a multi-year, careful and deliberate process, which included the former CEO at appropriate times throughout the process. It resulted in a well thought out rationale for the board’s unanimous decision to appoint Vince Tyra as the new CEO. With the support of one of our largest shareholders, we will continue our outreach to other shareholders to ensure the facts and conclusions surrounding the succession process are transparent, as well as the board’s confidence in Gildan’s trajectory.”

On December 17, Gildan announced an agreement with Coliseum Capital Management, in which the latter will support Gildan’s full slate of board nominees at each of the 2024 and 2025 Annual Meetings of Shareholders.

  • Chris Shackelton, managing partner of Coliseum Capital Management, has also joined Gildan’s board as a director.
  • Coliseum Capital Management is Gildan’s second-largest shareholder with 6.6% of the company, according to Bloomberg.

Conflicting Stories

Also on December 17, one of Gildan’s directors claimed that Chamandy gave the board an ultimatum to work toward a major acquisition or else he’d resign.

“Back in October, we reviewed our long-term strategic plan,” Luc Jobin, who has been a board member since 2020, told BNN Bloomberg. “We were confronted with an inorganic strategy which the CEO brought forward and entailed multibillion-dollar acquisitions outside of Gildan’s core of manufacturing. These acquisitions would have been highly dilutive to shareholders. They were very high risk. They needed a lot more work for the board to consider them seriously.”

Chamandy has disputed Jobin’s claim, stating “I gave no ultimatum to Gildan’s board with respect to any strategy or potential acquisitions.”

“This is a sideshow to distract from the reaction the shareholders have had with respect to the board’s handling of succession planning, in which I was not involved. I did not and could not orchestrate or control the events; the board conducted the process,” Chamandy says.

Tyra’s Background

Tyra is no stranger to the apparel industry.

Tyra also has deep financial industry experience, having been an operating partner at Southfield Capital, where he was a member of the Investment Committee.

  • Most recently, he served as senior vice president of corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions at Houchens Industries.
  • He has also served as the University of Louisville’s vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics.

“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.”