Abercrombie & Fitch just announced its first positive quarter since 2012.
Overall comparable sales for the fourth quarter of 2015 were up 1%.
Abercrombie & Fitch brand’s comparable sales, however, were still down 2%. This is still a marked improvement from the first three quarters of 2015, in which comparable sales were down 9%, 7%, and 5%, respectively.
Hollister is the parent company’s quiet success story, with comparable sales up 4%.
That said, consumers feel passionately about Abercrombie & Fitch — after all, it’s America’s most disliked retailer, according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. It has to win over consumers who detest it in order to fully execute a turnaround.
Fortunately, it’s slowly, but surely, starting to show signs of life.
“That noted, it is still far too early to say that brand loyalty has returned. At present many shoppers are rediscovering the brand and looking at it anew, as such their purchasing is patchy and occasional. While we believe that this is something A&F can improve on over time, we do not believe that it will ever regain the brand capital it once had: the market, consumers, and the competition have all shifted too much to allow that to happen,” Neil Saunders, CEO of consulting firm Conlumino wrote in a note to clients.
One way that Abercrombie & Fitch is hooking new customers? It has completely reinvented itself. Its fall lineup showed a vast improvement, showing off classic, simple looks. Its spring lineup continues a simple aesthetic and features lots of rompers and maxi dresses.
In November, Chairman Arthur Martinez told Business Insider that Abercrombie was aiming to go for an older consumer — 18-to-25 as opposed to a teenager — and the apparel is certainly proof of that.
But it’s to be noted that 2016 will be a year of progress.
“The upcoming year will continue to be one of reinvention. We believe that the current management team is strong and has the right mix of skills to make the necessary changes and reinvigorate the brand. However, they are up against a low growth, challenging environment which means that the play for the fiscal as a whole is as much about holding onto current market share as it is about positioning the business for future growth,” Saunders wrote.
The company maintains that there will be some struggles as it continues to work on its renaissance.
“As we look ahead to 2016, it is likely to remain a challenging environment, but we believe we are on the right track and we will continue to focus on delivering a customer-centric shopping experience and compelling assortments based on clearly defined brand positions,” Chairman Arthur Martinez said in a press release.
Consider it the beginning of Abercrombie & Fitch 2.0.
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