Business leaders of the brand and retailer only mentioned the coronavirus once, in stating at the beginning of a very brief webcast that it would not be providing any business update at the meeting. Typically, these meetings are an opportunity for shareholders to get a pitch on a company’s strategy for the year and its business outlook.
Anyone curious about Abercrombie’s response to the pandemic was directed to the two press releases the company has issued since closing all of its stores in mid-March. The company’s stock Wednesday morning fell to $11.41 a share after opening at $11.86, the highest shares have been since the beginning of March.
Terry Burman, Abercrombie’s non-executive chairman, said more detail would be given when the company comes out with its first-quarter results, expected “in the next few weeks.” Chief executive officer Fran Horowitz did not address shareholders during the meeting.
Abercrombie is set to release first-quarter financials next Thursday, but Burman’s comment may be opening the door another change in the date. Abercrombie already moved the date of its results once and pulled its entire 2020 guidance, saying only that it “expects material adverse impacts” from the pandemic. A number of other companies have pulled their fiscal guidance for the year as well.
There was also no mention of Abercrombie’s plans for reopening stores as some U.S. coastal states begin loosening lockdowns and others, mainly in the south, have reopened completely despite the coronavirus still spreading. Two weeks ago Horowitz said in a statement that the company was beginning to reopen “select” stores “on a rolling basis and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead.”
“We will open stores as state and local regulations allow and as we are able to meet the applicable safety and health standards,” she said. Horowitz did not specify how many stores are open or are expected to open in the coming weeks, although retail experts have been predicting that many stores that retailers have closed during the pandemic are unlikely to ever reopen.
In looking through the company’s web site, it appears that stores in at least 17 states are open with regular hours, including units in Florida and Texas, where Abercrombie and its other brands, A&F Kids and Hollister, have many stores. However, in some states where main Abercrombie and Hollister stores are open, the Kids stores remain closed.
Abercrombie intends to follow state guidelines on reopening and what is required of businesses, which vary as there is no federal guidance on how people or businesses should operate amid the pandemic. On the whole, Horowitz said in her earlier statement that the company intends to implement “the use of personal protective equipment, social distancing, contactless payment options” in stores, and possibly other measures.