T-shirt giant Gildan’s new CEO rocked by allegations of affair with underling: sources

One of the world’s largest apparel makers has been roiled by fresh dirt coming to the surface during a CEO shuffle — muddying a succession battle forged by activist investors who want the company to bring back the ousted boss, The Post has learned.

Gildan Activewear, a Montreal-based T-shirt wholesaler with a roughly $6 billion market cap, pushed out co-founder Glenn Chamandy last December and tapped veteran executive Vince Tyra to replace him.

However, Tyra allegedly had an affair more than two decades ago with an employee who reported directly to him at another company — and who now holds a senior leadership position at Gildan, according to a report by a research firm that The Post reviewed in redacted form.

Now, California-based hedge fund Browning West and other sizable shareholders, which had pushed to remove five directors after Chamandy’s ouster in December before the report about the alleged affair, claim Gildan’s board failed to do its due diligence before hiring Tyra – and his reunion with a possible former paramour may create potential legal headaches down the line, sources said.

“If a CEO behaves like this again we will get MeTooed. That is not good for us,” a Gildan shareholder with a large stake in the company told The Post.

Vince Tyra allegedly had an affair with a subordinate when he ran Broder Brothers, according to a research firm report. Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The alleged affair was unearthed by Paragon Intel, which sells annual subscriptions for its 100 or so yearly reports for as much as $75,000 to investment firms.

The 33-page initial background research report claimed that during Tyra’s time as CEO of Gildan distributor Broder Bros. from 2000-2005, he had a tryst with the underling, which the report names but The Post has decided not to identify after reviewing the document.

The report now making the rounds is only of raw interviews and Paragon plans to release a final version within weeks where it will express its opinion on whether Tyra should be replaced, Chamandy should be brought back or if neither should run the business.

A source close to Gildan railed over the mud-slinging by the disgruntled activist investors, which the person claimed is motivated to influence a vote by shareholders at the company’s annual meeting slated for May 28.

Some Gildan shareholders want Glenn Chamandy back as CEO. Gildan

“This false story is a reprehensible attack by Browning West, Glenn Chamandy, and their cronies to hurt two good people in an attempt to win a proxy contest. There was no affair. Mr. Tyra dated a colleague for less than three months, 22 years ago. At the time, he was separated, and she was divorced. The activists pushing this story have reached a new low,” the source said.

“The shareholders and director nominees who have followed Browning West’s attempt to hijack Gildan and its Board should question how they can associate with activists who peddle this kind of disgusting character assassination. Browning West’s own investors should be ashamed by this behavior.”

Browning West and Chamandy declined comment.

The source close to Gildan told The Post the 58-year-old Tyra, who is married and has five children, was separated at the time of the alleged affair. The source said the subordinate was divorced when the two hooked up.

The insider went on to point out that there would be two layers of management between Tyra and his former lover — and that there is no policy precluding the company from hiring someone because they had a consensual relationship with a current Gildan employee more than two decades ago.

Nevertheless, a corporate governance expert said their relationship is fair to raise as an issue as part of a broader look at whether Tyra should have been hired — but the fact that it allegedly happened more than two decades ago “makes it more of a grey area.”

Gildan makes t-shirts including at this Honduran plant competing with Hanes. Gildan

“The passage of time makes a difference and it is not so black and white,” Doug Chia, president of Soundboard Governance, told The Post.

“In today’s day and age, you have to think about a history of inappropriate relationships. People will look back and hold him to today’s standards.”

“One would hope the board knew about it and thought about it,” added Chia, who is not involved in the Gildan battle.

Tyra and Gildan’s board, led by Donald Berg, did not comment.

Chamandy, who has known Tyra for three decades, co-founded the company with his brother in 1984 and had been the sole CEO since 2004.

The Gildan board had said it wanted to move on from Chamandy because he was looking to make large acquisitions that would have hurt the company. It also wanted a larger role in choosing his successor.

Chamandy acted like Gildan was his business and did not respect his directors, one of Gildan’s leading shareholders told The Post.

Gildan’s bread and butter is selling t-shirts for the lowest prices. Amazon

“This turned into an ego thing,” the source said.

Chamandy referred The Post to a statement he made on Jan. 9.

“I am deeply disappointed by the actions of the Gildan board of directors,” he said at the time. “Having been at the helm of Gildan for more than two decades, I take great offense at what appears to be a premeditated effort to publicly undermine my record and, what is even worse from a corporate standpoint, is that their careless behavior is also tarnishing the reputation of a great company.”

“The board’s self-serving motives, designed to distract from its own recklessness, have led them to lose sight of what is truly important — the best interests of the Company, along with its employees, customers and shareholders.”

A Gildan analyst said the board was well within its rights to oust Chamandy because the company has underperformed the last couple of years.

“I don’t think Chamandy’s track record justified this kind of response to get him back in place,” said the analyst, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the company.

“But I think the investors felt blindsided by the announcement. It was very abrupt. There is a natural connection between many of them with Glenn, and the board completely mishandled the communications about the change.”

Tyra and former Knicks Coach Rick Pitino fought with each other eventually reaching a settlement. AP

Gildan posted revenue of $3.2 billion last year, down 1.4% from 2022, according to the company’s earnings report last month. Net income was $533.6 million, down 1.5% from 2022.

Tyra apparently doesn’t have significant plans to alter Charmandy’s growth strategy, according to an analyst report attached to Gildan’s Feb. 21 earnings report.

“New CEO Vince Tyra is only a month into his tenure and hinted at an updated strategy to be communicated in the coming months, likely at an investor day,” the report said.

“However, he did clarify that he is looking to enhance and not alter [Chamandy’s] Sustainable Growth Strategy, and that neither a step-up in marketing spend nor M&A were in the plans. We believe this brings a sigh of relief for the market, which had been increasingly supportive of the pillars of the Back To Basics platform.”  

Berg, meanwhile, has been unmoved by any claims of impropriety involving Tyra, telling investors the Paragon report was commissioned by one of its activist shareholders, sources told The Post.

Paragon denied Berg’s claim.

“No one paid us to do the report. We identified this situation because there was an external CEO change,” Paragon CEO Ty Popplewell said. “We’re not an opposition research firm.”

Paragon spoke to several former Broder executives who claimed to have knowledge of Tyra’s relationship with the current Gildan exec.

“He started dating this woman in the office. It was like, WTF? He was the CEO, so we went along with it. What are you going to do?” one ex-Broder exec said in the heavily redacted version of the report reviewed by The Post.

Another said: “I had never been around people with that lack of ethics and morals.” 

Aside from the office romance, the activist shareholders have also questioned Tyra’s business acumen. He was president of Fruit of the Loom when it declared bankruptcy in 1999 before jumping ship to Broder Bros. 

Bain Capital, which owned Broder, pushed out Tyra in 2005 because of poor financial performance, a Broder source told The Post.

Tyra later left the corporate world to become the athletic director at Louisville University in 2017.

That same year the university’s board fired legendary coach Rick Pitino over a pay-to-play recruiting scandal. 

Pitino, who had coached the Knicks and won NCAA titles at Kentucky and Louisville, moved on to Iona before taking over at St. John’s last fall.

Tyra, a Louisville native, left the university in 2021. He was hired the following year as senior vice president for corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions at Kentucky-based Houchens Industries before getting hired by Gildan.

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