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Abercrombie & Fitch has tapped the woman who helped bolster its Hollister brand to take the helm as it attempts to refresh its brand and win back the favour of fashion-conscious teens.

The US-based teen retailer said Wednesday that it had promoted chief merchandising officer and president Fran Horowitz as chief executive, ending a search for someone to fill the top role that started in December 2014 with the departure of former chief executive Mike Jeffries amid flatlining sales, tumbling profits and circling activist investors

“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,” executive chairman Arthur Martinez said in a statement.

Ms Horowitz has worked at retailers including Express, Bloomingdales and Ann Taylor Loft, where she was brand president. She joined A&F as brand president for Hollister in 2014, and was promoted to president and chief merchandising officer at A&F in December 2015. She said in a statement that it is an “honour to lead Abercrombie & Fitch’s efforts to strengthen our performance and reignite our growth.”

The company has also named Joanne Crevoiserat as its new chief operating officer, in addition to her current roles as executive vice-president and chief financial officer.

The promotions come at a critical time for A&F, which is struggling to restore its cachet as sales at brick-and-mortar retailers have suffered under intense competition from e-commerce sites and fast-fashion stores like H&M and Zara. A&F announced ahead of the holiday shopping season that it was overhauling the brand image of its eponymous stores.

Hollister, meanwhile, has been a bright spot for the company. Its comparable-store sales improved throughout the third quarter of 2016, according to its most recent earnings release, a trend that it said it expected to continue through the final quarter of 2016.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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