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Fyfe appointed CEO of Icebreaker

Former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe has been appointed new chief executive of merino clothing company Icebreaker.

Mr Fyfe, who for the past nine months has been executive chairman of the Wellington-based retailer, will start his new role on Tuesday.

Current chief executive and company founder Jeremy Moon will become ''creative director'' of the business.

Mr Moon described Mr Fyfe as a “game-changing CEO” whose strengths align perfectly with Icebreaker’s global goals.

“It was a big decision for me to hand over our business to another CEO, but I’ve seen Rob’s passion for what we are building at Icebreaker and I really admire his skills, especially with people.  In the end, it was easy for me to put my total trust in Rob.”

Mr Fyfe left Air New Zealand at the end of 2012 after seven years at the helm. He was noted for his innovation, including some risky branding such as one advertisement in which he appeared bodypainted as an airline captain. Mr Fyfe is widely credited as helping improve the airline's fortunes after its $880 million government bailout in early 2002.

Icebreaker was launched in 1995, positioned as "a bridge between city and nature" with crossover appeal to people who don't shop in outdoor stores.

It now has 19 company-branded retail stores, over 4000 wholesale customers, direct eCommerce and over 400 employees worldwide.

Sales have tripled in the last six years and are projected to exceed $200 million in 2014, with 80% of these sales now in Europe and North America, the company says.

More by Duncan Bridgeman

Comments and questions

Great move Jeremy. Congrats Rob!

Stunning appointment, well done Jem. Be interesting to see what direction IB will go, but given their recent introduction of the MerinoLoft jackets, it suggests that they will go down the "whole of body" line and introduce shoes, boots, ski shells and pants etc. Keeping sales growing when all you sell is merino wool based products must be challenging given limited supply of fine NZ wool and the number of challenger brands they now face in that sector. Fascinating.

What a pity Icebreaker is not the quality product it was when first launched. There's a challenge for you Mr. Fyfe. Bring back the original.

I believe that the product is still very good.

The problem is that there are now many competitors in this space with competitive products and stories.