Eddie Bauer to get a new CEO
Neil Fiske, who joined Eddie Bauer as CEO in 2007, will leave the post in March, and a search is on for a replacement who can lead the retailer through its next growth phase.
Seattle Times business reporter
Turnaround CEO Neil Fiske, who took over Bellevue-based Eddie Bauer in 2007 and led it through a bankruptcy-court auction in 2009, will soon leave the top post, according to a company statement.
No reason was given for his departure.
Fiske will step aside March 2 for David Chamberlain, the company's executive chairman, who will serve as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is named. Fiske will stay on as a consultant to ensure a smooth transition, the company said.
"We have great respect for Neil and appreciate everything he's accomplished at Eddie Bauer," Chamberlain said in the statement. "Neil set the vision and strategy for the company's return to its roots, and the board is committed to continuing this direction."
Chamberlain noted that the company will look for a CEO "who can take the brand through its next phase of growth."
Fiske joined Eddie Bauer as CEO in July 2007 after leading a turnaround of Ohio-based Bath & Body Works.
Fiske set out to return Eddie Bauer to its active-outdoor roots, saying it had lost its way in the 1990s and early 2000s under then-owner Spiegel. But in June 2009, Eddie Bauer filed for Chapter 11 protection, blaming the recession and the "crushing" debt it took on as part of Spiegel's 2005 emergence from bankruptcy.
Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco private-equity firm, won a bankruptcy-court auction with a $286 million cash bid for Eddie Bauer, and the clothing-store chain began anew in August 2009 as a privately held company.
Operating partner Neale Attenborough, who serves on Eddie Bauer's board, said Golden Gate is enthusiastic about the brand, "which enjoys strong, global growth potential." He also said Eddie Bauer is a "profitable and well-capitalized business," but gave no financial details.
During his tenure, Fiske helped launch a mountaineering line called First Ascent and a Sport Shop collection for hunting and fishing enthusiasts.
In the statement, Fiske said he was privileged to work at Eddie Bauer and looks forward to advising both Chamberlain and the board.
"I firmly believe in Eddie Bauer as a brand and as an American icon — and I believe it's in a strong position to achieve future success," he said.
Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or email@example.com