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Dec 9, 2014 9:25 AM

Longtime Abercrombie & Fitch CEO retiring

The Associated Press

NEW ALBANY, Ohio (AP) Abercrombie & Fitch's longtime CEO Michael Jeffries is retiring, effective immediately, as the once-hip teen clothing chain's sales decline.

Jeffries is also retiring from the retailer's board of directors. He has served as CEO since February 1992, according to CapitalIQ.

"I believe now is the right time for new leadership to take the company forward in the next phase of its development," Jeffries said in a statement.

Abercrombie & Fitch has been looking to stock trendier clothing as its sales have weakened and teens have chosen to shop elsewhere. The company has even worked on stripping its once-prized Abercrombie logo off products as teens are now seeking more individuality in their clothing.

For the fall season, the company reduced its logoed merchandise by half and previously announced plans to try and have a very minimal North American logo business in the spring.

Abercrombie & Fitch has also increased its emphasis on online shopping as it looks to reshape itself.

In other moves, the chain said that current Non-Executive Chairman Arthur Martinez will become executive chairman. He has served as non-executive chairman since January.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. also said that its board has created an Office of the Chairman that will include Martinez, Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Ramsden, Christos Angelides, Brand President of Abercrombie & Fitch and Fran Horowitz, Brand President of Hollister.

The Office of the Chairman will be led by Martinez and will oversee Abercrombie & Fitch's strategic direction. It will also be responsible for managing the company's day-to-day operations until a new CEO is appointed.

The retailer whose brands include abercrombie, Hollister Co. Gilly Hicks and its namesake said that it has started a search for a new CEO.

Abercrombie & Fitch had 834 stores in the U.S. and 166 stores across Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East at the third quarter's end.

Shares of the New Albany, Ohio-based company rose 6.7 percent in Tuesday premarket trading.


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