Joe Mimran, Canadian retail fashion mogul and Joe Fresh founder, is the newest member of CBC’s hit reality show Dragons’ Den, the broadcaster announced Wednesday morning.
The 62-year-old style pioneer, who built brands such as Joe Fresh, Club Monaco, Alfred Sung, Caban and — with his wife, Kimberley Newport-Mimran — Pink Tartan, will join the show’s panel of venture capitalists in Season 10.
The announcement comes just two days after Mimran announced his departure from Joe Fresh, the cheap and cheerful Loblaw clothing line he helped launch in 2006.
Under his guidance, Joe Fresh has grown to become Canada’s second-largest apparel brand by unit volume encompassing women’s, men’s, children’s, baby and beauty collections.
Despite the brand's success, Joe Fresh fell under intense scrutiny in 2013 when 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers were killed in a factory collapse. Tags and clothing bearing the name "Joe Fresh" were among those found in the rubble.
- Joe Fresh vows to be 'force for good' in Bangladesh
- Readers react to Joe Fresh pledge to be 'force for good'
After the tragedy, Loblaw promised to be a "force for good" in Bangladesh by improving working conditions and offering compensation to victims' families.
Mimran says Bangladesh was not part of the reasons why he left the company.
Decades of experience
His three decades of retail experience will likely be a big draw for the aspiring entrepreneurs who pitch venture capitalists on the award-winning series.
"I’ve been starting businesses since I was in university, and this is the perfect opportunity to share that lifelong passion and experience with young entrepreneurs," Mimran said in a statement.
"I look forward to working with the other dragons, hearing some great pitches and hopefully bringing the next great Canadian business idea to life."
Season 10 of Dragons' Den starts shooting next month, kicking off an intense shooting schedule.
Twenty episodes are filmed in 20 days, with the dragons hearing as many as 250 pitches.
"Here's the worst part," Mimran told CBC's Heather Hiscox. "For a fashion guy, I have to wear the exact same outfit every single day. I'm going the tear the clothes off myself at the end of the show," he quipped.
The award-winning CBC program centres on Canadian entrepreneurs pitching business proposals and ideas to a panel of celebrity venture capitalists, who must then decide whether or not to invest in the projects.
As the show's first fashion retailer, Mimran believes his experience will give him a competitive edge.
"Retail and fashion is one of the most competitive industries in the world," he said. "You have to have staying power. You've got to have a differentiated product. So, I think I can really look at an entrepreneur with that set of eyes."
Time of transition
Wednesday’s announcement comes during a time of transition for the popular series.
The recent departure of two popular dragons last month made some fans question the future of the series. The addition of such a high-profile replacement is likely to give the show a welcome boost.
"We’re thrilled to welcome Joe Mimran to Dragons' Den," said Jennifer Dettman, executive director of CBC’s unscripted content. "Joe is a giant in fashion retail in this country. As the brains behind some of Canada's most successful brands, he's a welcome addition to the den."
Longtime dragon Arlene Dickinson shocked fans last month when she revealed that she was giving up her chair on the show after eight seasons.
Dickinson’s announcement came less than a week after publishing powerhouse and personal finance guru David Chilton revealed he would not be a part of the tenth season.
The addition of Mimran in Season 10 still leaves one vacancy to be filled on the top-rated Canadian unscripted program.
Hosted by CBC broadcaster Dianne Buckner, Dragons' Den has an average audience of about one million Canadians each week.
More announcements about the upcoming season will be made in the coming weeks, the broadcaster said.
Complete list of departed dragons:
- Arlene Dickinson, CEO of Venture Communications (Seasons 2 – 9)
- David Chilton, The Wealthy Barber author (Seasons 7 – 9)
- Kevin O'Leary, entrepreneur and TV host (Seasons 1 – 8)
- Bruce Croxon, internet mogul (Seasons 6 – 8)
- W. Brett Wilson, investment banker (Seasons 3 – 5)
- Robert Herjavec, IT entrepreneur (Seasons 1 – 6)
- Jennifer Wood, beef industry executive (Season 1)
- Laurence Lewin, La Senza co-founder (Seasons 1 – 2)
Producers are currently holding cross-country auditions for aspiring Canadian entrepreneurs who can pitch their business or idea in five minutes or less. More information on the audition process, tour dates and locations can be found on on the Dragons' Den website.
The current ninth season of Dragons' Den airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC Television.
Full episodes are available online here.