Abercrombie & Fitch Ends CEO Search, For Now

December 23, 2015, 8:24 PM UTC

Abercrombie & Fitch: Keep CEO Mike Jeffries quiet

After a banner year of negative press for discriminatory comments against larger shoppers and "not-so-cool" customers, Mike Jeffries is staying on as Abercrombie & Fitch's chief executive. Investors desperately wanted him to leave given the company's tanking stock, but the teen retailer has decided to stay the course with Jeffries at the helm. This means Abercrombie is willing to take the risk of dealing with more outlandish comments from its chief executive. Our advice is simple: Keep him away from the microphone.
Photograph by Brent Lewin — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Abercrombie & Fitch has suspended its search for a new chief executive. The teen apparel retailer will continue to be managed by a group of executives who have run the company since its former CEO left a year ago, its executive chairman said on Wednesday.

The news comes a day after Abercrombie announced it had fired the president of its namesake brand, Christos Angelides, and made Fran Horowitz, the head of Hollister, its biggest brand by revenue, the chief merchant of the whole company. That means that its two major brands are both looking for new heads now.

Abercrombie & Fitch Chairman Arthur Martinez said in a statement to Fortune that the board feels the retailer is making enough progress returning to sales growth after years of big declines (last quarter, Hollister posted its first growth in years) such that it can continue without a CEO. A year ago, Mike Jeffries, the often controversial executive who turned Abercrombie into a cultural force and built the Hollister brand from scratch, stepped down.

“Given our encouraging performance, the board believes we’re on the right track and we intend to continue with the current governance structure,” Martinez said. “We are not actively conducting a search for a CEO at this time.”

With the departure of Angelides, Abercrombie will continue to be overseen by its Office of the Chairman, which was created last year after Jeffries left and now includes three people: Martinez, Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Ramsden, and Fran Horowitz, who was promoted to chief merchant.

The exit of Angelides and Horowitz’s promotion could very well mean that the suspension of the CEO search is meant to give Horowitz some time to prove she deserves the top job.

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