Abercrombie and Fitch's shareholders have sent CEO Mike Jeffries and his fellow executives a harsh message: You’re getting paid too much.
About 75 percent of Abercrombie's shareholders voted against the company's executive pay packages in a June vote, according to a regulatory filing first reported on by BuzzFeed. Slightly less than 19 percent of the company's shareholders voted in favor of the pay packages.
The shareholder vote is non-binding, which means the company can award the executives the pay packages in spite of investor discontent.
Jefferies received $41.8 million in overall compensation last year, enough for him to place second among S&P 500 CEOs in a Bloomberg ranking comparing CEO pay to average industry workers.
In an emailed statement to The Huffington Post, Abercrombie spokesman Mackenzie Bruce acknowledged that the company's executives received a “negative say on pay" vote, but said the retailer has made efforts to address investor concerns.
“We believe the company and our compensation committee have taken many important strides over the past couple of years to address our stockholders' concerns regarding our compensation policies and practices and we will continue to do so in the coming year and are confident that we will,” Bruce wrote.
Abercrombie's executives aren’t alone in facing criticism from shareholders over pay in the wake of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act, which allows shareholders to submit a non-binding vote on executive pay. Citibank and Target investors are just some of those who have shown signs of discomfort with company pay levels. As a whole, however, shareholder discontent remains relatively rare.
Critics slammed Jefferies earlier this year over resurfaced statements he made to Salon in 2006, in which he admitted the brand aimed to exclude “uncool” kids. Abercrombie has since apologized for Jefferies’ statements and launched an anti-bullying campaign.
Also on HuffPost:
In 2006, Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries said in an interview with Salon that his brand is <a href="http://www.salon.com/2006/01/24/jeffries/" target="_hplink">"absolutely" "exclusionary"</a> and only "want[s] to market to cool, good-looking people."
"Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. <a href="http://www.salon.com/2006/01/24/jeffries/" target="_blank">You don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody, either</a>," Jeffries said in the interview with Salon.
In May 2013, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/abercrombie-wants-thin-customers-2013-5" target="_hplink">Business Insider</a> resurfaced Jeffries' comments in an interview with Robin Lewis, co-author of the recent book "The New Rules of Retail." Lewis claims that Jeffries doesn't "want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people," as evidenced by the sexy man on this billboard.
The repurposing of Jeffries' outrageous comments basically blew up the Internet. One man went as far as to start a brand readjustment campaign targeted at the retailer by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/abercrombie-and-fitch-homeless-brand-readjustment_n_3272498.html" target="_hplink">giving away Abercrombie clothing to homeless people</a>. The video garnered millions of views in just a matter of days.
After awhile, Jeffries decided to issue this statement and posted it to Facebook.
But most people really didn't buy it.
Some people took their comments a bit too far.
While others, decided to keep their posts simple.
Even Ellen DeGeneres took aim at Jeffries' past remarks!
Eventually, Abercrombie was forced to issue yet another apology. Teen activists went to Abercrombie's headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, to protest Jeffries. After meeting with the activists, Abercrombie issued a statement stating that the brand is committed to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/23/abercrombie-and-fitch-apology_n_3323668.html" target="_hplink">"anti-bullying in addition to our ongoing support of diversity and inclusion." </a>
The end. For now.