Abercrombie's Polarizing CEO Abruptly Retires

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After curbing its multi-sensory assault in store and offering more non-logoed merchandise in new sizes and colors, Abercrombie and Fitch is now resorting to even more drastic measures to reverse flagging sales.

CEO Mike Jeffries, who is credited with transforming the 122-year-old sporting goods retailer into a racy arbiter of youth culture, announced his retirement -- effective immediately -- this morning. As the company searches for a successor, a group of senior executives, including executive chairman Arthur Martinez and COO Jonathan Ramsden, will manage day-to-day operations, Abercrombie said.

Jeffries’ reign at the company over the past two decades has not been without its fair share of controversies. In a Salon profile in 2006, the now 70-year-old said, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

But today, Abercrombie -- and its sister brand Hollister -- have all but lost their exclusive luster, as the teen market has been disrupted by fast fashion retailers like H&M and Forever 21, as well as a host of online outlets. The company reported a third quarter sales drop of 12 percent, which Jeffries called “disappointing in what remains a very challenging environment for young apparel.”

Wall Street seems to be applauding the executive shakeup. The company’s stock was up almost 7 percent as of 10:50 a.m. ET.

Related: The Scent in Abercrombie Stores Is Giving Shoppers Serious Anxiety

Edition: November 2016

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