Michael Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Steps Down

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Department store Abercrombie & Fitch has announced the retirement of the company’s chief executive officer, Michael Jeffries.

“It has been an honor to lead this extraordinarily talented group of people,” Jeffries said in an Abercrombie & Fitch news release dated Tuesday, Dec. 9. “I am extremely proud of your accomplishments. I believe now is the right time for new leadership to take the Company forward in the next phase of its development.”

Abercrombie & Fitch’s non-executive chairman of the board, Arthur Martinez, will become executive chairman. A new board-established office of the chairman (consisting of Martinez, Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Ramsden, Abercrombie & Fitch brand President Christos Angelides and Hollister brand President Fran Horowitz) will oversee the company’s strategic direction and oversee day-to-day operations until a new CEO takes charge, according to the release.

“It is impossible to overstate Mike Jeffries’ extraordinary accomplishments in building Abercrombie & Fitch to the iconic status the brand now enjoys,” said Martinez. “From a standing start two decades ago, his creativity and imagination were the driving forces behind the company’s growth and success. Going forward, we are confident in our talented senior leadership team and the steps we are taking to revitalize our brands and business.”

Before his departure – which is effective immediately – Jeffries, 70, had been in charge of the retail store for over two decades, according to Reuters.

Jeffries Has Been Controversial

The sudden retirement in the heart of the Christmas shopping season may be surprising, but not completely unexpected. Controversy has followed the CEO for some time.

In May of 2013, website Elite Daily compiled a list of what it said were the 13 most ridiculous things Jeffries had said. Among them were comments about popularity, the cool kids and the demographic he hoped to target at the store.

“Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong (in our clothes), and they can’t belong,” Jeffries is reported to have said.

Thus, it’s safe to assume some were pleased by Tuesday’s news.

Bloomberg reports that the announcement of the retirement of the controversial CEO has been well-received; the retailer’s stock went up as much as 7.8% to $28.40 in New York – this after Abercrombie & Fitch’s shares fell close to 20% over the past year.

Shoppers: Look for Changes

So what does all of this mean for shoppers? With new senior leadership at the department store, expect the possibility of a new look, new image and new approach to marketing. Recently, for example, the store has increased its emphasis on online shopping, according to ABC News.

The 1892-established clothing company is hosting an online-only promotion of “gifting go-tos” for $20 and less, plus free shipping on orders of more than $50.

 




 

Abercrombie & Fitch storefront image via Shutterstock