Ex-Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries resigned in December after more than 20 years with the teen retailer.
But before announcing his departure, Jeffries reportedly just stopped showing up for work.
On Sunday, Dec. 7, he held a routine call with executives to discuss the holiday season, Businessweek reports. The following day, he didn’t report to work and no one ever saw him at the office again.
“On Monday, Dec. 8, Jeffries didn’t arrive at work in his black Range Rover,” according to Businessweek. “He never showed up. Early the next morning, Arthur Martinez, the former CEO of Sears and the chairman of the Abercrombie board since early 2014, called the senior executives into a meeting. He told them that Jeffries was leaving and the company was looking for a new chief executive. … No one saw Jeffries in the office again, and he couldn’t be reached for comment.”
The company announced Jeffries’ departure on Dec. 9 in a news release with a statement attributed to Jeffries, who had been with the company since 1992.
“It has been an honour to lead this extraordinarily talented group of people,” the statement said. “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.”
The statement seemed oddly brief for someone who had been with the company for more than two decades and whose brand allegiance has been described as a kind of obsession.
Until his final days in office, Jeffries still proudly wore the Abercrombie logo and strongly encouraged corporate employees to do the same.
“There’s this fetishistic attitude — you want to demonstrate as much allegiance to the brand as possible because that’s what makes Mike happy,” a former designer told New York Magazine.
Jeffries became CEO in 1992, at a time when sales were languishing, and he turned the brand into a global powerhouse within a decade.
Sales nearly doubled to $US165 million within Jeffries’ first two years with the company. By 1999, they topped $US1 billion.
But sales turned south again in Jeffries’ last couple years at the helm. Same-store sales had fallen for 11 straight quarters by the time that he stepped down.
Perhaps that’s why Jeffries quietly slipped out of the office in December and resigned without any formal parting remarks, aside from the three-sentence statement released by the company.
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