Fran Horowitz has been promoted to chief executive officer of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., filling a slot that has been vacant since the departure of Michael Jeffries in December 2014.
Arthur Martinez will continue in the role of executive chairman.
The announcement Wednesday confirmed recent reports that Horowitz, formerly president and chief merchandising officer, would step up. Horowitz will also join the board.
Abercrombie also said that Joanne Crevoiserat, executive vice president and chief financial officer, has been promoted to chief operating officer while continuing in her current roles.
“Fran’s appointment to ceo reflects the leadership she has shown in the turnaround of Hollister, our efforts to provide a compelling, customer-focused shopping experience at both of our brands and, while we have more work to do, the repositioning of the Abercrombie & Fitch brand,” said Martinez. “She is a talented, creative and dedicated executive who has energized our team around important cultural values, a customer-centric mind-set and a commitment to assuring our company’s success.”
Martinez said that Crevoiserat’s promotion “reflects the scope of her responsibilities and the important role she plays in maintaining our operational discipline and financial strength in a challenging retail environment.”
Said Horowitz: “We have made solid progress in our efforts to listen to and provide our customers with shopping experiences that exceed their expectations.”
With Horowitz’s appointment, the office of the chairman, which has been leading the company since December 2014, has been dissolved.
Horowitz, 53, served as president and chief merchandising officer of Abercrombie & Fitch Co. since December 2015. She joined Abercrombie & Fitch as Hollister brand president in October 2014 from Ann Taylor Loft, where she also held the role of brand president. For nearly eight years, she worked at Express Inc., rising to executive vice president of women’s merchandising and design. Earlier, she held merchandising roles at Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Bonwit Teller and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Crevoiserat, 53, has been executive vice president and chief financial officer of Abercrombie & Fitch since May 2014 and a member of the office of the chairman since October 2015. Prior to joining Abercrombie & Fitch, she held senior management roles at Kohl’s Inc., including executive vice president of finance and executive vice president of merchandise planning and allocation. Earlier, she held senior finance positions with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and May Department Stores.
Last week, Will A. Smith joined the company as chief marketing officer.
While the Hollister division has been improving, A&F continues to show disappointing results. As Martinez said last year, “As expected, our third quarter was challenging. While Hollister improved sequentially, it was more than offset by disappointing performance in A&F. On a total company basis, conversion trends remained positive across both channels and the direct-to-consumer business grew domestically and internationally. In addition, we remained disciplined as expense and inventory were well controlled.
“We were pleased with the progress in Hollister where the comparable sales trend improved throughout the quarter. There continued to be positive response to Hollister’s product innovations, emerging categories and overall customer experience and we expect the comparable sales trend to further improve in the fourth quarter.
“For A&F, flagship and tourist locations continued to be a major headwind. In addition, chain-store traffic patterns remained negative. Weakness in A&F was compounded by underperformance of seasonal categories, which ultimately led to pressure on gross margin. While we anticipate the A&F business will remain challenging through the balance of the fiscal year, we continue to move aggressively to evolve the brand across all channels through significant changes in product, customer experience and marketing. A comprehensive set of strategic and operational actions is being taken by an experienced team under new leadership, and we expect to see benefits as our efforts gain traction,” Martinez said.