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Tech Firm Hire Latest Move in A&F Reboot

The struggling teen retailer has hired First Insight Inc., a technology firm that guides stores on product, design and pricing decisions.

Struggling teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. continues to recruit outside help, but this time it’s a technology company.

After restructuring its board by bringing in several industry veterans last week, A&F has hired First Insight Inc., a Pittsburgh-based technology firm that guides stores on product, design and pricing decisions.

Abercrombie has been losing touch with its teen base, hampered by pricing seen as too high, a lack of sensitivity to product seasonality and climate variances, being overly logoed and a general inability to transform itself back to relevancy. “By using First Insight to identify more winning products and price them appropriately, we are increasing speed to market with the right styles, which will yield increases in sales and margin,” said Gillian Galner, group vice president of merchandising at Abercrombie & Fitch. Galner said First Insight will be a “critical” element in transforming A&F.

First Insight taps consumer perceptions through online social engagement tools, including gaming. The company said it will provide its consumer-driven predictive analytics to help A&F make faster and more accurate design, buying and pricing decisions and reduce markdowns and risks associated with product introductions. It added that thousands of products and designs will be analyzed months before they are brought to market. “We look forward to driving measurable results” for A&F, said Greg Petro, First Insight’s president and chief executive officer.

As reported, industry veterans Arthur Martinez, Terry Burman and Charles R. Perrin were tapped for A&F’s board last week. Michael Jeffries continues as A&F ceo but relinquished the chairman title to Martinez, who became non-executive chairman.