Christos Angelides has taken on a big challenge to revive the ailing Abercrombie & Fitch brand, industry observers believe.
He will join the US retailer in October after 28 years at Next, where he rose to become product supremo.
Conlumino global research director Maureen Hinton compared Abercrombie & Fitch, which reported a $23.7m (£14.1m) loss in its last quarter, with French Connection, which suffered a sales slump in the 1990s when its ubiquitous FCUK T-shirts fell out of fashion.
She said: “It was highly popular but it’s not keeping up with its target audience. It definitely needs a shake-up.”
It is understood that Angelides, who was named president of the Abercrombie & Fitch and Abercrombie kids brands this week, was seeking a new challenge after spending his entire career at Next.
He will report to Abercrombie & Fitch chief executive Mike Jeffries and have overall responsibility for all product and customer-facing activities. He will also be accountable for the financial performance of the brands.
Jeffries said: “Christos’ appointment is a critical step in our long-term strategy of being organised
The role has been interpreted by observers as a stepping-stone for Angelides one day to take over from Jeffries.
Hinton said that to turn around Abercrombie & Fitch, Angelides needs to find a clear brand identity and ensure its offer is adapted to that.
“They need to produce a range that will justify its price positioning. He’s extremely competent at finding and targeting product,” she said.
Jeffries said earlier this year that the retailer would consider dropping its prices to woo back customers.
Angelides was instrumental in breathing new life into Next’s ranges and oversaw product improvements that helped it stay ahead in the competitive middle market.
Last year, Next’s profitability eclipsed that of Marks & Spencer.
Next will not replace Angelides at board level and it is likely that his replacement will come from within the organisation.
Angelides’ is the latest senior departure at Next. Last month, finance boss David Keens revealed he is to retire next year. Property director Andrew Varley left last year.
Next product guru Christos Angelides to exit the business
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Next's Christos Angelides faces challenge to revive Abercrombie & Fitch brand