Abercrombie & Fitch Co. had a rough go of it last year — when comparable-store sales fell 8 percent — but the company has a plan to reinvent itself and is sticking by it.
Chief financial officer Joanne Crevoiserat told investors at the Telsey Advisory Group consumer conference in New York today that the retailer is being being careful to make major changes in its assortment gradually as it presses ahead.
“We are highly focused on evolving the merchandise assortment,” she said. “In addition to ensuring the design and product content reflects trend, we’re also focused on striking the right balance between fashion relevance, quality and value.”
Also on the merchandise front, the tops business will get special attention and the brand will strive to build inventory “with greater conviction behind the big ideas, in-depth behind our highest volume items,” she said.
The logo-centric business, which at its height approached a third of the company’s assortment, was cut in half last year.
“There is a place for logo in our assortment,” Crevoiserat said. “ Short-term, we plan to at least maintain our current levels with penetration, which should mean continued comp headwind, but at reduced rates in the first half of 2015, and then neutralizing as we get to the back-half of the year. Long-term, we’ll follow the customer’s lead in determining the appropriate level of our logo assortment.”
The company closed 51 U.S. doors last year and has shuttered about 275 stores since 2010 and expects to keep winnowing the store base at about that rate for the next few years.
While Abercrombie’s own retail footprint is contracting, the brand is getting more play elsewhere. Abercrombie merchandise started selling through ASOS for Christmas and Crevoiserat said the company was pleased with the wholesale arrangement’s sales and margins.