Fran Horowitz, president of Ann Inc.’s Loft division, has been named president of the Hollister division of Abercrombie & Fitch Inc.
Horowitz will have overall responsibility for all product and consumer-facing activities at Hollister and report to Michael Jeffries, chief executive officer of A&F.
Prior to assuming her post at Loft seven months ago, Horowitz, 51, was a consultant to Ann Inc. Earlier, she was executive vice president of women’s merchandising and design for Express Inc. and spent 13 years at Bloomingdale’s in a variety of merchandising roles.
Jeffries praised Horowitz’s experience as well as her merchandising skills. She joins A&F at a time of transition as the retailer establishes a new management structure spurred by pressure from activist investors. Jeffries was replaced as chairman by Arthur Martinez, although he remained ceo, and A&F revealed plans to appoint presidents for its two operating units.
In June, A&F appointed Christos Angelides, formerly group product director for U.K.-based retailer Next plc, president of its Abercrombie & Fitch and abercrombie kids brands.
With the move, Horowitz assumes command of the brand that is responsible for more than half of the company’s sales, store count and gross square footage. Like other players in the teen sector, it’s suffered from weak traffic and negative sales trends in recent years and has been further challenged by its connections to the West Coast beach lifestyle business.
In the six months for the current fiscal year, Hollister’s sales slid 2.6 percent, to $886.2 million, while comparable sales dropped 9 percent, a higher fall than the 1 percent decline at Abercrombie & Fitch or the 6 percent decline at abercrombie. The company’s sales were off 4 percent to $1.71 billion in the half, with comps down 6 percent.
Nor were there signs of improvement in the second quarter as Hollister’s comps were down 10 percent and net sales off 4.9 percent to $464.6 million. As of Aug. 2, it operated 454 stores in the U.S. and 131 in other markets, with gross square footage of 4.3 million. All told, A&F operated 1,044 stores with 8 million square feet of space.
Horowitz is expected to begin at A&F on or around Monday, the same date that Angelides joins the firm. She will receive a base salary of $995,000 with a target bonus of 125 percent of her base salary, or about $1.24 million. She is eligible for a $450,000 sign-on bonus, adjusted for the value of stock and option rewards received from Ann Inc.
Jefferies & Co. analyst Randal Konik, who has a “buy” rating on the stock, called the hiring “a very positive addition” that will lead to “increased differentiation and product elevation.” He noted that she and Angelides share “significant product and administrative experience.”
Herbert Mines Associates conducted the search for the Hollister and A&F/abercrombie positions.
Gary Muto, president of Ann Inc. Brands, will oversee the Loft team as “the company considers its longer-term plan for this role,” a spokesman for the company said.