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

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

Roxy Manson (far right) collects community sock donations from Walk the Coast. Manson collected more than 500 pairs of socks with her “Warm Socks to Warm Hearts” campaign. The socks will be distributed to community members who are living in the cold. (PHOTO COURTESY CAM MCARTHUR)
Alberni teen collects more than 500 pairs of socks for people in need

Warm Socks to Warm Hearts campaign ran throughout the month of November

The Alberni District Secondary School musical theatre class will be putting on a virtual performance of Shrek the Musical Jr. (PHOTO COURTESY TARYN POTTER)
ADSS musical theatre class puts a twist on fairy tales

Shrek the Musical Jr. will be a virtual performance due to COVID-19

Dave Heinrichs, general manager of Alberni District Co-op, and Paulette Schwartz, manager of the Liquor Depot. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Co-op buys Liquor Depot in Port Alberni

Co-op members in Port Alberni will soon be able to enjoy their benefits when purchasing liquor

An air ambulance leaves West Coast General Hospital for a trauma centre at 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12 after a Port Alberni youth was injured in an accident on the Somass River. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO
COVID-19 outbreak hits West Coast General Hospital

One unit closed; emergency department still open

Community Policing volunteers Ricky Paul and Gerry Stewart patrol the parking lot at Northport Plaza on Thursday, Nov. 19. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni community policing launches Crime Watch

New program will be ‘extra eyes and ears’ for the police

12-year-old Ella Smiley captured some video of orcas on a sea lion hunt on Nov. 28 at Kitty Coleman Park, just north of Courtenay. Photo by Ella Smiley
VIDEO: Orcas hunt sea lion near Vancouver Island shoreline

Twelve-year-old Ella Smiley, of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings, caught up with a… Continue reading

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Most Read