Eddie Bauer to search for new CEO as Fiske steps down

Eddie Bauer CEO Neil Fiske, who led the brand through its its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization and buyout, plus spearheaded the brand’s efforts to return to its core outdoor roots, is stepping down from the position, officials told SNEWS.
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The man who led Eddie Bauer through its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization and buyout, plus spearheaded the brand’s efforts to return to its core outdoor roots, is stepping down from the CEO position, officials told SNEWS.

Neil Fiske will leave the brand's top post March 2, after serving nearly five years as CEO. He will stay on with the company as a consultant through a transition period. The company named Eddie Bauer Executive Chairman David Chamberlain as Interim CEO while its board searches for a new CEO.

Chamberlain said the board is committed to continuing in the direction Fiske took the company, with “a sharp focus on the modern outdoor enthusiast” through its First Ascent and Sport Shop Collection lines.

“We have great respect for Neil and appreciate everything he’s accomplished at Eddie Bauer. He returned the brand to its core strengths and heritage: ‘guide tested and trusted,’” Chamberlain said in a statement.

Soon after joining Eddie Bauer in 2007, Fiske outlined his redirection for the company, which at that time was coming off its first bankruptcy reorganization in 2005. The economic crisis put the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy again in June 2009 as it struggled to pay its debt. Private Equity firm Golden Gate Capital bought out the company at auction later that year and continues to own the brand.

Also in 2009, Eddie Bauer launched its First Ascent line, a realization of Fiske’s strategy to focus more on the core outdoor market.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished over the past four and a half years at Eddie Bauer,” Fiske said in a statement. “We have re-connected the brand to its heritage and built a strong platform from which the company can grow.”

Neale Attenborough, a member of Eddie Bauer’s board of directors and an operating partner at Golden Gate Capital, described the business as “profitable and well capitalized,” adding that the private equity firm remains committed to the brand.

--David Clucas

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