Abercrombie & Fitch has started the search for a new CEO

Abercrombie & Fitch has started the search for a new CEO

Michael Jeffries, the chief executive officer of US teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, has announced his intention to retire with immediate effect.

Jeffries is stepping down from the role after more than two decades at the helm of the company. The firm said it has commenced a search for a successor.

"It has been an honour to lead this extraordinarily talented group of people," he said in a statement. "I am extremely proud of your accomplishments. I believe now is the right time for new leadership to take the Company forward in the next phase of its development."

Non-executive chairman, Arthur Martinez, will become executive chairman. The board has established an office of the chairman as a result, comprising Martinez, as well as COO Jonathan Ramsden, brand president of Abercrombie & Fitch Christos Angelides, and brand president of Hollister Fran Horowitz.

The office will oversee the company's strategic direction and be responsible for managing its day-to-day operations until a new CEO is appointed.

Martinez said of Jeffries departure: "It is impossible to overstate Mike Jeffries' extraordinary accomplishments in building Abercrombie & Fitch to the iconic status the brand now enjoys. We are confident our search will identify a new leader with the skills and expertise to enable Abercrombie & Fitch to capitalise fully on its growth opportunities and build shareholder value."

Stifel analyst Richard Jaffe noted Jeffries' integral role in the company’s success for nearly two decades, but pointed to the brands "lost luster" in recent years.

He added: "We think it took management, led by Mr Jeffries, too long to acknowledge the need to transition from the company’s previously successful aesthetic of an aspirational, New England prep-inspired teenager. We believe a new CEO, preferably from outside the company, will need to be able to accelerate the ongoing merchandise turnaround and offer merchandise that once again resonates with today’s teenager."