Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Abercrombie Boosts Forecast in ‘Mic Drop’ for Retiring Chairman

Updated on
  • Arthur Martinez plans to step down from role next month
  • Company named new CEO last year after struggle to find footing

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. shares surged after the clothing chain boosted its fourth-quarter forecast, letting Executive Chairman Arthur Martinez announce his retirement on a high note.

Martinez will step down on Feb. 3 when the fiscal year ends, the company said on Monday. The 78-year-old has been chairman since 2014, the year when long-time CEO Mike Jeffries departed and the once-hip clothing brand set out to regain its cachet with shoppers.

The upbeat outlook sent the shares up as much as 10 percent to $21.92 in New York, marking their biggest intraday gain since November. The stock climbed 45 percent last year, rebounding from six straight years of decreases.

Martinez’s departure follows a slow recovery from slumping sales and a leadership void in the top job. The company had no permanent CEO until its chief merchandising officer, Fran Horowitz, stepped into the role last year. Since then, the New Albany, Ohio-based retailer’s Hollister chain has helped fuel a turnaround.

Martinez, the former CEO of Sears Roebuck & Co., will hand the chairman role to Terry Burman, who already serves as lead independent director.

“With the company on a solid trajectory, this is the right time to hand over board leadership to Terry,” Martinez said in a statement.

Abercrombie now expects same-store sales to grow in the high single digits, up from a previous projection in the low single digits. The company will report its results on March 7.

While the improving results at Abercrombie are part of a broader holiday-season resurgence, the positive sales trends are “worth a mic drop,” Brian Tunick, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note to clients.

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