June 18, 2007, 12:00 AM

Eddie Bauer finds a new CEO, luring Neil Fiske from Bath and Body Works

Former Bath and Body Works CEO Neil Fiske replaces Howard Gross, who has been interim CEO of Eddie Bauer since February, when chairman and CEO Fabian Mansson resigned after shareholders rejected a proposal to sell the struggling multi-channel retailer.

Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc. has named Neil S. Fiske as president and CEO. Board member Howard Gross has been interim CEO since February, when chairman and CEO Fabian Mansson resigned following shareholder rejection of a proposal to sell the multi-channel sportswear and accessories retailer.

Fiske, 45, has been CEO of the Bath and Body Works division of Limited Brands Inc. since 2003. Prior to that he spent 14 years at Boston Consulting Group, focusing on the consumer goods and retail sector.

“Neil Fiske is the ideal candidate for Eddie Bauer at this stage of its evolution, with his knowledge of the retail industry and experience in transforming brands and building management teams,” says William End, company chairman. Fiske will also become a member of the board after he assumes his new post July 9.

Eddie Bauer, No. 55 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, had been searching for a permanent CEO since Mansson resigned in February, one day after shareholders rejected a buyout proposal from Eddie B Holding Corp., a company owned by affiliates of investment bankers Sun Capital Partners Inc. and Golden Gate Capital.

Fiske takes over a company that experienced a 5% decline in online sales in 2006 to $217.6 million. Total sales declined 4% last year to $1.01 billion. Following Mansson’s resignation in February, Gross commented, “We are moving forward thoughtfully and expeditiously to position the company to execute its turnaround strategy."

In addition to EddieBauer.com and seasonal print catalogs, Eddie Bauer operates about 370 stores in North America.

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