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Abercrombie & Fitch plans revival

News, 27 May 2016

NEW YORK: Abercrombie & Fitch, the fashion brand, is seeking to revive its fortunes by delivering "enduring quality and confident style" to millennials.

The apparel line posted an 8% decrease in comparable sales in the last quarter, but Fran Horowitz – President/Chief Merchandising Officer at Abercrombie & Fitch Co. – argued "the extensive work we have done on brand positioning" could soon pay dividends.

"Our focus for A&F is to be positioned as the iconic American casual luxury brand for the twenty-something consumer, with products crafted to reflect enduring quality and confident style," she reported on a conference call.

"We believe Abercrombie is the iconic American luxury brand for that consumer. All of the touchpoints for our consumer – from in-store to online – will be affected by this conviction in our DNA.

"It is a work in progress; we're on a journey here. We're making progress each and every day, but the end goal is to have a completely seamless experience for our customer with that positioning."

As part of its long-term repositioning effort – which, according to Horowitz, has seen "pretty rigorous work over the past year" – the brand has looked beyond its traditionally risqué advertising, and also begun prioritising equity over price.

"We tightly managed the business with lower levels of clearance and reduced promotional intensity, which we see as an important part of our strategy to improve long-term brand health and positioning," said Horowitz when discussing the last quarter.

"While it hurt the top-line somewhat, we are seeing the benefits in higher average unit retail and gross margin rates as we focus on long-term growth."

More broadly, Stacia Anderson was recently appointed to lead the Abercrombie & Fitch brand, and will help reinforce its emphasis on rebuilding the consumer proposition.

On a similar note, Arthur Martinez, Executive Chairman at Abercrombie & Fitch Co., suggested to CNBC that "there's a theory" many younger shoppers would rather make purchases for the longer term instead of making more disposable choices.

"We are not playing the fast-fashion game with Abercrombie," he added.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha/CNBC; additional content by Warc staff