Mike Jeffries, CEO of the popular mall clothing chain Abercrombie & Fitch, and one of the only openly gay business leaders in the U.S., has resigned from his position after years of bad press and slumping sales.
70-year-old Jeffries has never been shy about expressing his douchey opinions to the media — from saying the company only hired “good-looking” employees (“[G]ood-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people,” Jeffries said. “We don’t market to anyone other than that.”), to claiming it doesn’t make large sizes because he doesn’t want “fat” or “unpopular” people wearing their clothes (“Abercrombie is only interested in people with washboard stomachs who look like they’re about to jump on a surfboard,” he claimed).
This week, Jeffries and his spray-on tan announced he will be immediately quitting the company’s board of directors and stepping down as CEO.
Jeffries first joined A&F in 1992, when the company still sold sporting equipment, fishing gear, and outdoor clothing. In just a few short years, he rebranded it into the all-American fashion line it is today, ditching the middle-aged men with fishing poles for d-bag frat boys and their gaggles of barely-clothed female admirers. And as a result, sales skyrocketed as upper middle class suburban teenagers flocked to their local shopping malls to shovel out $150 for A&F hoodies, ripped jeans and rubber flip flops.
In recent years, however, revenues, profits, and share prices began to crumble. Sales dropped 12 percent last quarter and online traffic dwindled, while the company slashed its profit forecasts. Reports of A&F’s “cult-like atmosphere” surfaced after a journalist visited the company’s headquarters in Ohio and reported that it was staffed entirely by youthful men and woman clad in Abercrombie flip-flops and jeans. And then there was that whole story about Jeffries’ diva-like demands while aboard his private Gulfstream G550. A 47-page manual detailed the precise seating locations for Jeffries’ dogs, and cabin crew was instructed to respond to all of his requests with a laid-back “no problem.” In addition to that, A&F perfume had to be regularly spritzed around the cabin, the carpets had to be vacuumed in perfectly regimented lines, and the entire crew had to be made up of only attractive male models.
“It has been an honor to lead this extraordinarily talented group of people,” Jeffries told A&F employees this week. “I am extremely proud of your accomplishments.”
He added: “I believe now is the right time for new leadership to take the company forward to the next phase of its development.”
No word yet on what Jeffries plans to do next, or who will be hired to replace him.