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Investor demands Guess oust Paul, Maurice Marciano over misconduct claims

An activist investor firm is demanding that apparel brand Guess oust co-founders Paul and Maurice Marciano from its board, claiming that allegations of sexual misconduct against one of the brothers could derail its business. In a scathing letter to the retailer’s board, Legion Partners Asset Management noted that Paul Marciano has been “publicly accused of sexual misconduct by at least 11 women” since 2009, including supermodel Kate Upton. The firm said it is “deeply concerned” that board members have not already acted to oust him. The activist firm also targeted Maurice Marciano, arguing in a release that he, as Guess’s former chairman, effectively turned a blind eye to his brother’s alleged conduct. “We do not believe that Guess will ever be able to reach its full potential with the persistent overhang of legal, reputational and moral risk that accompanies the Marciano brothers remaining on the Board or continuing to serve in any role inside the Company,” the activist firm’s managing directors said in the letter. Legion Partners Asset Management holds a roughly 2.5% stake in Guess, according to the Wall Street Journal. The firm previously led activist pushes at other retailers, including Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond. Guess did not immediately return The Post’s request for comment on the letter. But the retailer told the Wall Street Journal that Legion has “resurfaced information related to one of the company’s co-founders, the details of which come from public information, including the company’s own disclosure on these matters.” Guess representatives added that the company has “strongly refuted these allegations fully in the past and are contesting them vigorously.” see also Legion’s letter includes details on specific allegations against Paul Marciano, including a 2021 lawsuit filed by an unnamed former Guess model who accused him of forcing her to perform oral sex. In 2018, Upton accused Marciano of forcible groping, sexual harassment and misconduct when she worked for the Guess brand as a model. Upton said she was fired after she resisted his advances. Marciano has denied her allegations. Paul Marciano resigned from his role as executive chairman in 2018 following an internal investigation into the allegations of misconduct, though he did not admit wrongdoing. At the time, Guess said the company reached settlements with five individuals totaling $500,000. But in 2019, Guess said Paul Marciano would stay on as its chief creative officer. He has also remained on the company’s board. Legion asserted there was “no way to know how many other allegations may been settled privately by Paul Marciano or the Company.” The firm argued the Marciano brothers’ continued involvement threatens to undo progress made under current Guess CEO Carlos Alberini, including a streamlined store portfolio and supply chain improvements. Guess Inc. shares rose more than 5% in midday trading Tuesday.

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