Eddie Bauer's future positioning will hinge on new CEO

Nearly two weeks after announcing CEO Neil Fiske will step down March 2, Eddie Bauer officials are mum on any significant changes ahead. Those close to the company tell SNEWS the brand's First Ascent line will remain on course while it awaits a new leader.
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Nearly two weeks after announcing CEO Neil Fiske will step down March 2, Eddie Bauer officials are mum on any significant changes ahead.

Eddie Bauer Executive Chairman and appointed Interim CEO David Chamberlain declined further comment on the future direction for the brand, beyond what he stated in the Feb. 13 announcement of Fiske’s upcoming departure.

In that statement, Chamberlain said Eddie Bauer’s board of directors “is committed to continuing Fiske’s vision and strategy for the company’s return to its roots” and that a new leader will take “the brand through its next phase of growth.”

Eddie Bauer officials said they are unlikely to comment further until a new CEO is in place. They added no other executive departures, congruent to Fiske’s, are planned.

Peter Whittaker, who helped Fiske develop Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent line of outdoor apparel and gear, said he plans to continue his position as a consultant to the company.

The co-owner of Rainer Mountaineering Inc. guide service and Whittaker Mountaineering store told SNEWS the announcement of Fiske’s departure came on quickly.

“I can’t say which side it came from more,” Whittaker said, who added that he and Fiske remain good friends. “The First Ascent mission is intact and moving forward, but definitely this caught quite a few of us by surprise. We’ve heard of no other real changes … that’s the message we’re getting from those above. We’ll continue to do what we do, but we’re not at the summit yet.”

Whittaker said he has no purview to who Eddie Bauer might chose to replace Fiske on a more permanent basis, or if that person would or should come from within the outdoor industry.

“Neil did a great job of being very accessible,” Whittaker said. “That’s what really helped. I’m hopeful that we find someone similar with the right skill set.”

--David Clucas

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