The Abercrombie & Fitch Story. What Went Wrong?

You have heard me say from time to time that companies get into trouble due to denial and perseverance in a period of change. I’ve also noted that it’s typically not the founder or executive who’s been in charge for a long time who can fix the problems.

Their perception of the organization, relationships with the people (employees and other stakeholders) and, ultimately, responsibility for the problems, or at least for not addressing them effectively, makes it difficult for them act as a change agent. Often even recognizing, until things get really tough, the need for the change is hard. The arrogance that successful entrepreneurs justifiably have (or they would never have succeeded in the first place) can get in the way as well.

I’ve written about a number of brands in our industry, including Abercrombie & Fitch, that has had these issues. Today, I came across this article in the Seattle Times that does a good job of laying out how A & F got in trouble and how the board of directors dealt, and is dealing, with it. It is, I think, instructive.


2 replies
  1. Mathieu
    Mathieu says:

    Thanks for the article. On a smaller scale, you can actually see the same phenomenon inside a company with people staying too long in the same position. I believe this to be because changing things would mean – for them – they did it wrong.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi Mathieu,
      People are cautious about change. Me, you, everybody. The difference, of course, is that a CEO or President has the ability to leave or make change happen is they want to. In fact, they are the ones responsible for recognizing the need and making it happen. That isn’t always as easy further down in an organization, but I see your point.

      Thanks for the comment,


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