What Kind of CEO Worries About What Underwear and Cologne You Wear While the Stock Declines by Half?

Abercrombie & Fitch's CEO is in the public eye for questionable expenditures and outrageous personal demands. And all this while his company's stock keeps falling.

Although Abercrombie & Fitch's stock has taken a 55.2-percent nosedive year-over-year, it doesn't seem to have bothered CEO Mike Jeffries. He's been living like a celebrity with his own private jet and a crew of male-model flight attendants that wait on him and his three dogs.


It's all precisely outlined in this 47-page "rulebook" that recently was uncovered by Bloomberg. The manual includes guidelines such as:

  • All attendants must wear A&F-branded polo shirts, flip-flops, boxer briefs and jeans that "sit at the hips." They must also "spritz" Abercrombie & Fitch #41 cologne on their uniforms for the duration of their shifts.
  • The crew must not leave fingerprints on any of the planes interior surfaces and must vacuum the plane's carpeting in "smooth, even lines."
  • When Jeffries' three dogs accompany him, each has its own seating arrangement, detailed in a five-point instruction list.
  • In the bathroom, exactly eight washcloths need to be tri-folded and placed directly behind the vanity.

And you thought your employee handbook was grueling? Read all the bizarre policies Jeffries' cabin attendants had to follow.

The controversy is the result of yet another discrimination lawsuit being filed against the company. This time the plaintiff is Jeffries' former pilot, Michael Stephen Bustin, 55, who claims that he was fired in 2009 because A&F had "the express intention of hiring younger pilots who were more in keeping with … a 'youthful, all-American style.'" Read more about Bustin v. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. on NYTimes.com.

Craig Stapleton, lead independent director for Abercrombie, said in an email statement that the company's board supports Jeffries, while General Counsel Rocky Robins added that A&F "doesn't comment on rumors and speculation" and that Bustin's lawsuit "is without merit."

Jeffries is under contract until February 2014, and if the company is sold and he loses his job, he could be awarded up to $105.6 million—a hard loss when A&F only netted $127.7 million the past year, according to Bloomberg's coverage. If he is fired with cause, Jeffries could still receive $11.6 million.

So what makes a great CEO? See the difference: We show you what forthright diversity leadership and adherence to values look like. Watch these video clips of exemplary CEOs from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Kellogg Company, Ernst & Young and more.

Can Abercrombie & Fitch come back from the obvious disconnect its CEO has with the rank-and-file employees? Will its stockholders continue to invest in light of the negative publicity?

See real-time how this publicity is affecting Abercrombie & Fitch's current stock and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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