Abercrombie & Fitch Co., reeling from poor results, has dismissed its top ranking women’s merchant, Chad F. Kessler, according to sources.

This story first appeared in the January 25, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The company did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

Kessler held the title of executive vice president of female merchandising and reported directly to Michael Jeffries, chairman and chief executive officer. He has been a key player at the specialty chain for a number of years, successfully rising up the ranks.

Abercrombie has lately been outperformed by such youth specialty rivals as Aéropostale Inc., The Buckle Inc. and Hot Topic Inc. But the company, which operates Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie, Hollister and Gilly Hicks stores, is fighting back and trying to reconnect with consumers, including recently launching mobile commerce, advancing social networking initiatives and lowering prices.

Kessler, who is in his mid-30s, has been executive vice president since November 2008. Before that he was senior vice president of female merchandising, prior to which he served as senior vice president and general merchandise manager of the Hollister division.

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