Abercrombie & Fitch CEO retires as sales continue to decline

Will the departure of Michael Jeffries, the retailer’s controversial former CEO, help the brand regain audience favor? Analysts think it may not.

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Tuesday marked the end of such tendentious comments—and branding tactics—as Jeffries announced his immediate retirement.

Though Jeffries’ controversial messaging helped the clothing retailer become a top brand in the late ’90s, it’s a strategy that’s no longer working.

Abercrombie & Fitch has reported 11 quarters of declining sales. In 2013, sales fell 10 percent. Revenues are still dropping. Compared with last year, sales fell 12 percent during the most recent quarter.

The famous statement went viral last year. Jeffries came under fire after he said the reason the brand doesn’t offer XL and XXL sizes for women is because it’s for “the cool kids.” Critics blasted the company’s branding choices. An activist even created an anti-Abercrombie campaign called #FitchTheHomeless because an Abercrombie manager said he’d “rather burn clothes than give them to poor people.”

Eric Beder, a Wunderlich Securities analyst, said the brand displayed a lack of progress, and recent tactics were “too little, too late.”

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