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Jenna Lyons (pictured below), the creative force behind preppy US retailer J.Crew, is stepping down from the group in a shift of strategy for the company as it fights for relevance in an increasingly crowded industry.

The move comes at a tumultuous time for J.Crew as the company seeks to restructure its debt and rekindle sales growth, a person familiar with the announcement told the FT.

J.Crew has struggled to appeal to its affluent consumer base over the past few years after it abandoned its relatively staid but crisp offerings for a higher fashion aesthetic. While that won J.Crew and Ms Lyons plaudits with magazine editors and critics in New York, it failed to gain traction in the mass market.

Ms Lyons confirmed her exit in an interview with publication The Business of Fashion on Monday afternoon, which reported that Somsack Sikhounmuong — who led women’s design for the company’s faster growing Madewell division before being promoted to lead womenswear at J.Crew — would be promoted to chief design officer.

A spokesperson for J.Crew was not immediately available for comment.

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