Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF), the teen apparel chain that’s retooling its image in an effort to revive sales growth, named a British retail executive as the new president for its namesake brand.
Christos Angelides, who comes from the U.K.-based clothing chain Next Plc (NXT), will take charge of the Abercrombie & Fitch and Abercrombie Kids brands, according to a statement today. When he starts the job in October, Angelides will be responsible for products, customer interactions and finances.
Chief Executive Officer Mike Jeffries has been trying to rekindle Abercrombie’s appeal among teen shoppers, who are flocking to fast-fashion retailers such as Forever 21 and Hennes & Mauritz AB. (HMB) His turnaround plan has included a management shake-up. In addition to the hiring of Angelides, the company is searching for a brand president to oversee the Hollister nameplate, which caters to younger shoppers.
“Our brand is different than his, our customer is different from his, but what he has is a customer focus -- and that’s why he’s been successful and that’s what he’ll bring here,” Jeffries said in a telephone interview. Angelides, 51, has served as group product director for Next, giving him experience managing a multibillion-dollar international retailer, Jeffries said.
Abercrombie’s stock slipped 0.1 percent to $40.47 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 23 percent so far this year.
The retailer is updating stores and adding more fashion-forward merchandise as it turns to social-media marketing to engage shoppers. Abercrombie also has separated the CEO and chairman roles and increased the size of the board, aiming to improve corporate governance. Still, sales aren’t projected to start growing again until at least 2016, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
As part of the recent changes, the New Albany, Ohio-based company promoted Jonathan Ramsden to the newly created chief operating officer position in January, then hired Joanne C. Crevoiserat in April to replace him as chief financial officer. The company is “making good progress” on naming a Hollister brand president, Jeffries said in the interview.
“We’re seeing absolute results, and we’re all very happy about how we’re executing the long-range plan and just the tenor of our business,” Jeffries said. “It’s a very difficult sector, and there’s no way you can say we’re not doing well.”
Next shares fell 1.7 percent to 6,515 pence in London after Angelides became the second long-serving executive to announce his departure in less than a month. Finance Director David Keens, who like Angelides has been with Next for 28 years, plans to retire in 2015, Next said May 19.
Angelides helped build Next into a business that in its last financial year made more money on a pretax basis than Marks & Spencer Group Plc for the first time. With a greater market value than its main U.K. competitor, Next now trails M&S only in terms of absolute sales, helped by a business model that’s adapted more quickly to the shift in consumer habits toward online shopping.
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