Model Neelam Gill is the face of A&F’s new toned-down ad campaign. (Photo: courtesy of Abercrombie & Fitch)
In the midst of some of the biggest shopping days of the year, Abercrombie & Fitch has fired the head of its brand.
Christos Angelides served as the company’s president since October 2014 and was seen as a contender to take the chief executive officer position. The top position has been vacant ever since Mike Jeffries, who helped grow Abercrombie and Hollister, stepped down a year ago after having been stripped of his role as chairman of the board of directors a year before that.
Fran Horowitz, Hollister’s current president, has been promoted to president and chief merchandising officer of the company effective immediately and will be responsible for all of the company’s brands. Horowitz has had a long career in retail; she previously worked at Ann Taylor Loft, Express, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and more.
“Fran’s merchandising skills and her exceptional leadership, which has inspired associates to focus all their efforts on an intense understanding and commitment to our customers, has ignited a turnaround at our Hollister brand,” Arthur Martinez, executive chairman, said in a statement. “This promotion provides Fran the opportunity to play an even greater role in our future success as we focus on building shareholder value by positioning each of our brands for sustainable growth.”
According to Martinez, lackluster performance isn’t the reason for the change (reducing promotions and containing costs helped profits more than double in the third quarter). “We are pleased with our performance for the quarter to date and are on track to deliver continued sequential improvement in comparable sales and achieve the profit expectations we had coming into the quarter.“
In the past few years, A&F has lost its stronghold over the teenage market that it dominated for so long in the aughts. Its turnaround strategy, one that was revealed last month along with its new ad campaign, is attempting to focus on a different customer. Martinez explained that they’re targeting the 18-to-25-year-old, the collegiate and immediately post-collegiate age. Marketing materials have shifted focus away from overt sexiness (no more ripped adonises and Bruce Weber-lensed campaigns) and instead highlighting the more relatable individual. Neelam Gill, a British model who was the first Indian to star in a Burberry campaign, appears clothed in all the images.