Abercrombie & Fitch Narrows 1st Quarter Loss

New Albany, OH–Abercrombie & Fitch Co revealed plans Tuesday to step up its international expansion after rising sales helped narrow its first quarter loss.

The retailer is to open Abercrombie & Fitch flagship stores in Copenhagen, Denmark and Fukuoka, Japan this year, as well as an Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store in Madrid, Spain in fiscal 2011. And it will open its first international Gilly Hicks lingerie store in the U.K. in the fourth quarter.

International Sales Double in First Quarter

The roll-out was announced as the retailer saw its international sales more than double in the first quarter to $119.0 million. This growth outstripped the 5% rise in domestic sales to $568.8m, and helped lift total company sales by 14% to $687.8 million, up from $601.7 million a year earlier. Total direct-to-consumer merchandise sales were up 42% to $68.8 million, while same-store comparable store sales rose by 1%.

By division, same-store sales were up 3% at Abercrombie & Fitch, rose 6% at Abercrombie Kids, but fell 2% at Hollister Co. Overall sales growth helped narrow quarterly net loss to $11.8 million or $0.13 per share for the three months to  May 1. This compares to a loss of $59.2 million or $0.68 per share in first quarter 2009.

The company had lowered prices on trendy products as its core consumers backed off on spending. The strategy has worked but has affected the margins. “Promotion isn’t a fundamental strength of ours but we’re getting much, much smarter in Hollister in terms of what we promote, how we promote it, where we promote it,” Mike Jeffries, ceo, said.

He said the company will continue to offer sales and other deals at Hollister, which has a sportier vibe, while it will promote less at higher-priced Abercrombie & Fitch and Abercrombie.

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