American Eagle Outfitters CMO Steps Down After Stellar Earnings

Marketing Chief Helped Build Retailer's E-Commerce, Loyalty Efforts

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Teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters, fresh off its strongest quarterly earnings in years, has announced that its chief marketing officer, Michael Leedy, will step down from his role on September 15. The company is actively searching for a successor and Mr. Leedy will assist with the transition, if needed, in an advisory position, the company said, in a statement.

American Eagle declined to comment further on Mr. Leedy's departure.

Mr. Leedy joined the Pittsburgh-based retailer in 1994 and previously exited the company for two years to head up marketing at Chico's before returning to the CMO role at American Eagle in 2011, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He led American Eagle's marketing team through tumultuous periods as it fought to define itself for new generations, and helped establish the retailer's loyalty program and online direct-to-consumer business, which consists mainly of e-commerce. Most recently, Mr. Leedy oversaw the retailer's decision to stop retouching models in its Aerie lingerie brand, as part of the #aerieReal campaign. The American Eagle Outfitters brand has also featured real people, rather than models, in past marketing efforts. Last year, Mr. Leedy selected Translation as its lead creative agency, moving the account away from Arnold, its first global agency of record.

"We thank Michael for his many contributions over the years," said Roger Markfield, executive creative director at American Eagle, in a statement. "Michael was instrumental in establishing our early brand DNA, our loyalty program and significantly influenced initiatives like the launch of the AEO direct business. We have an outstanding creative marketing team, and I am confident that we will find a strong successor to build on our success and lead us into the future."

Mr. Leedy's departure comes after the retailer posted its strongest quarterly earnings in more than three years on Wednesday. Net revenues jumped 12%, while consolidated same-store sales for American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie rose 11%. Despite the stellar earnings, the stock fell on Wednesday as buyers who invested in the company when it was struggling sold their shares at a profit, said Stifel analysts, in a report.

In March, American Eagle elevated its chief merchandising officers for American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie -- Chad Kessler and Jennifer Foyle respectively -- into the roles of global brand presidents, responsible for brand design and merchandising. Mr. Kessler and Ms. Foyle report to 73-year-old Mr. Markfield, who postponed his planned retirement early last year.

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