By  on June 24, 2009

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is aggressively marketing its upcoming Hollister flagship in Manhattan as “The Epic Hollister Store.”

The four-level, 40,000-square-foot flagship, Hollister’s first unit in New York City, will open at 600 Broadway at the southeast corner of Houston and Broadway in SoHo on July 16.

Hollister is holding castings to find “the coolest, best-looking” store models (boardshorts and flip-flops required) and offering the chance to appear in the advertising, which is photographed by Bruce Weber. A&F’s marketing typically features bare chested young men.

To further evoke its laid-back, beachy, Southern California attitude, Hollister has launched HCORideTheWave.com, a promotional Web site apart from the main Hollister site. The new Web site features electronic postcards, directions to the SoHo flagship, a short film with computer graphics of the flagship, and a ticker that counts down the time remaining until the opening.

The store hopes to perk up Abercrombie’s depressed sales trends as of late and will be pivotal in determining the rollout pace of A&F’s strategy to open flagships around the world in capitals and major cities. European openings include the launch of an Abercrombie & Fitch flagship in Milan in October. Asian expansion includes an 11-story Abercrombie & Fitch opening in December in Tokyo’s Ginza district.

Hollister has a strong teen following and is geared to 12- to 24-year-olds. Last quarter, Hollister’s comparable-store sales were down32 percent to $262.4 million. A&F overall reported a 24 percent decline in sales last quarter to $612.1 million from $800.1 million in the year-ago period. The company lost $26.8 million against earnings of $62.1 million in the year-ago period.

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