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

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Jennifer Rice BC NDP North Coast Incumbent was re-elected for a third according to the preliminary results on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as fake Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Most Read