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Angelides's departure from Next stuns industry

Product boss Christos Angelides’s exit from Next for US retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) is being dubbed the “end of an era”.  

He is leaving after 28 years at the business to join Ohio-based A&F as president of the mainline and the Abercrombie Kids line. He has already stepped down from the board, but will continue to work at the business until September. He will start at A&F in October.

In his new role, Angelides will report into chief executive Mike Jeffries and will have overall responsibility for all product and consumer-facing activities. He will also be accountable for the financial performance of both collections. 

It is thought the move caught Next off guard. Drapers understands there is no succession plan in place, leaving questions as to whether Next will promote internally, hire from outside or split up the role. He will not be replaced on the board.

Angelides, who joined Next as a trainee in 1986, is seen as a great loss for the retailer. The financial market reacted badly to the news, with Next’s share price dropping more than 3% in the first 24 hours after the announcement and as Drapers went to press.

One former colleague said: “This is the end of an era – it’s a massive deal and could be quite brand damaging, given Next has just lost David [Keens, finance director] too. Things have to move on, but it will always be a bit disturbing to lose two such old hands in one go.”

A rival retailer said: “I didn’t see it coming. But it’s not a decision he will have taken lightly, given how close he is to Simon [Wolfson, chief executive].

“But the great thing about Next is that it has always been about the team. It’s never been about personality, so although he is undoubtedly very influential I suspect Simon will continue to steer the ship the way he has done so far.”

Independent analyst Nick Bubb said he “would never have seen that coming in a million years”.

Angelides’s is the third major departure announced in just over a year. Property director Andrew Varley will retire this month after 27 years, with Land Securities’ Dominic O’Rourke expected to take the role. Keens will retire next March, after 28 years at the company. He is being replaced by brand finance director Amanda James.

“It will be incumbent upon [Wolfson] to swallow any political ambitions and make sure that the new team is bedded in,” Bubb said.

In a statement, Next said: “Christos has made a huge contribution to the group in his 28 years of service, and the board wish him success in his future endeavours.”

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