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AEO announces abrupt departure of its CEO

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 5:18 p.m.

Struggling teen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc. said on Wednesday that CEO Robert Hanson was leaving the South Side-based company.

Hanson, who became CEO two years ago, was succeeded by Jay L. Schottenstein on an interim basis until the company finds a permanent top executive.

Schottenstein was CEO from 1992 to 2002, chairman from 1992 to 2012 and executive chairman since 2012. He is the seventh largest shareholder in the company and is a member of the Columbus, Ohio, family that founded American Eagle and has stakes in shoe retailer DSW Inc., Value City Furniture and other companies.

American Eagle spokeswoman Iris Yen declined to provide a reason for Hanson's departure or comment further.

Earlier this month, Hanson, who had previously been a brand president at jeans maker Levi Strauss, announced that American Eagle's sales during the all-important holiday season had fizzled.

Revenue for the nine weeks ended Jan. 4 dropped 2 percent to $882 million, compared with $904 million for the nine weeks ended Dec. 29, 2012, the company said. Results comparing stores open at least a year were even worse, dropping 7 percent.

American Eagle also said Roger Markfield, executive creative director, will postpone his previously announced retirement.

“I look forward to working closely with Roger and our talented team to capitalize on the significant potential of our brands and to position the company for growth and long-term success,” Schottenstein said.

American Eagle said its prediction of per-share earnings in the fourth quarter hasn't changed. It previously said fourth-quarter net income will be 26 cents a share, excluding one-time charges. In the same period last year, American Eagle reported adjusted net income of 55 cents a share.

The company will report financial results for the fourth quarter on March 11.

American Eagle shares fell 2.5 percent to $13.95 in after-hours trading. Shares tumbled 30 percent last year, compared with a 30 percent gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Hanson received total compensation of $11.6 million in 2012, including a base salary of $1.05 million, according to the most recent financial filings by American Eagle. He is entitled to two years salary plus other payments and benefits totalling about $6.3 million if his employment is terminated, according to company filings.

Bloomberg News Service contributed. Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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