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

Langley Animal Protection Society is asking people to think about the animals in need this holiday season, offering a number of ways to help. (Drew Harkness/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Santa Paw efforts afoot in Langley this Christmas

Aldergrove animal shelter develops new ways for people to help pets this holiday season

Local people are signing onto an online campaign to have people stand out of doors at 6 p.m. local time on Christmas Eve and ring bells for two minutes. (Facebook post)
LETTER: Langley, ring those Christmas bells

Global campaign asks people to ring bells for two minutes outside at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve local time

Rents range from $1,000 for a studio apartment up to almost $2,000 for a family townhouse at Emmaus Place, built as affordable housing. (Langley Advance Times files)
Rents out of reach at Langley affordable housing project, say would-be tenants

Rents for a studio apartment start at $1,000 a month

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

Vees goalkeeper Yaniv Perets stands watch while Tyler Ho takes the puck around the back of the net on Nov. 7. The BCHL press release did not name the player who tested positive.(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees quarantining after player tests positive for COVID-19

The team, staff and billets are isolating while they are tested

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

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Most Read