January 4, 2002, 12:00 AM

Eddie Bauer’s president resigns

Richard T. Fersch, president and CEO of the Eddie Bauer division of the Spiegel Group, is retiring, effective today, the company announced.

Richard T. Fersch, president and chief executive officer of the Eddie Bauer division of the Spiegel Group, is retiring, effective today, the company announced. The Spiegel Group in general and Eddie Bauer in particular have been suffering declining sales all year, except at Eddie Bauer.com, where sales grew 42% in the company’s third quarter vs. a 7% in all retail stores and a 15% drop in comparable stores.

"We appreciate Rick`s unwavering enthusiasm and steadfast dedication over the past 14 years and the significant contributions he has made to the company," commented Martin Zaepfel, The Spiegel Group`s vice chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Under Rick`s leadership, Eddie Bauer has evolved from a regional U.S. retailer into an international, tri-channel retailer, with sales growing from $900 million to more than $1.6 billion. The Eddie Bauer brand now is known worldwide and is consistently ranked among the most recognized retail brands."

The 52-year-old Fersch joined Eddie Bauer in 1988 as vice president of retail stores and subsequently held positions as senior vice president of stores, executive vice president of merchandising, marketing and advertising, and chief operating officer. Fersch was named president in 1993 and in 1997, he was promoted to president and chief executive officer.

The company also announced that Eddie Bauer has realigned its organizational structure “to ensure greater consistency in its brand message and customer experience across all marketing channels.” Steve Newman, president of the Eddie Bauer apparel division, has assumed additional responsibility for all creative services and sourcing. Prior to this change, Newman was responsible for all aspects of the Eddie Bauer apparel business including merchandising, planning and inventory management, and design and development.

In addition, the company recently named Mark Staudinger vice president of marketing. Staudinger joined Eddie Bauer in 1992 as manager of information services application and most recently served as vice president of direct media. Staudinger became part of Eddie Bauer`s interactive media team in 1999 and was instrumental in establishing eddiebauer.com.

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