Jeffries is retiring immediately as CEO and a member of the board, Abercrombie said in a statement today (via Bloomberg News). The hunt for a replacement is on already.
Though Jeffries is credited with turning the chain into a popular place for teens to go and get their ears blasted with pumping jams while searching for just the right khaki flared cargo pants and shirt emblazoned with the words Abercrombie & Fritch, in recent years he’s come under fire for slumping sales and criticism for openly courting cool, pretty customers.
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” said in 2006, in comments that returned to haunt him and stir the public’s ire in May 2013. “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. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
Jeffries had already lost his spot as chairman of the board earlier this year, and Abercrombie had hired two executives to head up Abercrombie and Hollister each.
“Back when they announced they were going to be having brand presidents, when they said they were going to have a chairman, it was all leading to this,” Simeon Siegel, a New York-based analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc. told Bloomberg News. “As opposed to answering an activist by throwing a CEO to the curb, they basically allowed him to retire with dignity.”
Jeffries was once one of the best-paid bosses out there, only to see his compensation slashed by 72% last year.
“It has been an honor to lead this extraordinarily talented group of people,” Jeffries said in the statement. “Now is the right time for new leadership to take the company forward in the next phase of its development.”
Abercrombie CEO Leaves Chain After Overseeing Rise and Fall [Bloomberg News]