Abercrombie to Revamp Hollister as Fast Fashion Retailer

hollisterNew Albany, OH—If you can’t beat them, join them?

That evidently is the thought behind Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s announcement Thursday that it plans to turn its Hollister retail brand into a fast fashion retailer.

The change comes as Abercrombie is struggling to regain its footing in the highly competitive teen retail market where it has seen its market share—not to mention sales and share price—fall as fast fashion retailers such as H&M, Forever 21 and others scoop up more business.

Recently appointed Chairman Arthur Martinez said the company is exploring the shift for Hollister and is working with West Coast vendors to come up with “a supply chain that’s fast and responsive.”

New President(s) Sought

Hollister, which has a Southern California-style vibe, has some 600 stores worldwide. A shift in the merchandise is likely to mean lower prices in hopes of luring back younger, college-age shoppers who have fled to other teen retailers that offer lower prices.

It also might help turnaround Hollister. For the year ended Feb. 1, Hollister pulled in $2.1 billion in sales, roughly half the company’s total. But its comparable store sales have been dismal, falling 14%–worse than the 10% drop at Abercrombie & Fitch.

The company also is looking for a president for its Hollister brand, seeking someone with fast-fashion experience.

Abercrombie & Fifth has been under pressure to revitalize its business. Activist investor Engaged Capital LLC, which has a 0.5% stake in the company, has had new directors appointed and urged CEO Mike Jeffries to leave.

Jeffries was removed as chairman in January when Martinez, a former chief executive at Sears Holdings, was appointed.

The retailer is searching for two new presidents to run its Abercrombie and Hollister brands, either could eventually succeed Jeffries. Martinez said he would meet finalists for both posts “since we are applying succession capability to the criteria” for the selection.

Herbert Mines Associates Inc. is handling both searches.




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Jeff Prine

Jeff Prine, Editor at Large, Accessories Magazine
Jeff returns as a regular contributor to Accessories magazine. Initially Jeff worked as senior editor at Accessories more than 20 years ago and his love of the industry has followed him until present. Since his tenure here, Jeff has continued to report jewelry, watch and other luxury goods trends as executive editor at Modern Jeweler magazine, fashion director at Lustre, and as contributor on products and trends for consumer and trade publications and websites. In addition to his editorial experience, Jeff also served as an adjunct instructor for accessories merchandising at Fashion Institute of Technology. jeffp@busjour.com