Men’s Wearhouse Ousted Founder Says He Didn’t Seek Buyout

Men’s Wearhouse Inc.’s ousted founder George Zimmer, disputing claims the retailer made yesterday, said he never concluded that taking the company private was the right course for the apparel chain.

His objection against the board was that it refused to “thoughtfully” evaluate strategic alternatives beyond simply selling the company’s K&G clothing-store chain, Zimmer said in a statement today about the disagreements that led to his ouster as executive chairman.

“To justify their actions, they now have tried to portray me as an obstinate former CEO, determined to regain absolute control by pushing a going private transaction for my own personal benefit and ego,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Zimmer is responding to Men’s Wearhouse’s statement yesterday that he was fired in part because he was pushing for a sale of the company to an investment group. The founder also disagreed with a plan to seek alternatives for K&G and sought final approval on certain decisions, such as executive compensation, the retailer said.

Zimmer, 64, founded the Houston-based menswear retailer 40 years ago and still owns about 3.5 percent of its shares, making him the seventh-largest investor.

Men’s Wearhouse fell 0.8 percent to $36.85 today in New York. The shares have gained 18 percent this year, compared with a 12 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

The company in March said it hired investment-banking firm Jefferies & Co. to explore strategic alternatives for K&G, which sells discounted casual wear.