- Abercrombie & Fitch‘s shares soared 25% early Thursday morning after the retailer reported its fifth consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth.
- The company, which also owns Hollister and Abercrombie Kids, has been working hard to execute a turnaround by investing in its stores, closing unprofitable locations, improving its product assortment, and working on its marketing strategy.
- These photos reveal how it has changed.
Abercrombie & Fitch is back.
The clothing retailer, which also owns Hollister and Abercrombie Kids, saw its shares soar as much as 25% early Thursday morning after reporting its fifth consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth.
Same-store sales were up 3% overall at the company with a 1% and 4% increase at the Abercrombie and Hollister brand, respectively.
While sales growth had slowed somewhat during the quarter, the company has remained on an upward trend over the past year, proving that it is on the mend.
“The recovery at Abercrombie & Fitch is still a work in progress. However, turning around a once very troubled brand is far from easy,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.
He continued: “Progress and advancement do not all come at once; this is a step-by-step process that will build over time. We are satisfied that management is on the right road to recovery.”
The photos below reveal how the brand has changed over the past few years in order to execute this turnaround:
It has changed the nightclub aesthetic of its stores by turning up the lights, turning down the music, and putting an end to incessant cologne spraying.
Today, all of the stores are brighter, and there is not a whiff of cologne.
Shirtless models are a thing of the past …
Abercrombie was famous for its scantily clad models who greeted customers are the entrance of the store.
In 2015, the company put a stop to this and announced that it would no longer hire sales associates based on their looks.
… as are the racy shopping bags.
Today, Abercrombie opts for a simpler bag to appeal to the more sophisticated shopper.
It reduced the use of logos.
Abercrombie’s former CEO, Mike Jeffries, initiated a move to ditch the brand’s signature logo from clothing in 2014.
While logo clothing still exists today, it is more subtle in some cases.
At present, the company is benefiting somewhat from a ’90s fashion comeback, which has made the logo trendy again. Abercrombie CEO Fran Horowitz said in an interview with Business Insider on Thursday that this trend is aiding logo sales at the brand at the moment. If this trend wanes, the brand will adjust accordingly, she said.
It has traded oversexualized ads for outdoorsy, wholesome images.
Abercrombie was formerly known for its raunchy ads. Today, it has ditched its shirtless male models and opted for a more down-to-earth look. This is one of the most noticeable changes in its stores and social media platforms today.
Abercrombie’s former executive chairman Arthur Martinez told Business Insider in 2016 that the brand toned down its ads in order to target an older customer.
“The rebelliousness that was embodied in that [older] marketing and that positioning was very much directed at the teen who was… finding their own identity,” he said in 2016.
“We aim today to be a little further up the age curve … where people are little more grown up, if I can use that phrase … They’re entering a true adulthood, sort of 18-to-25 age band, collegiate, and immediate post-collegiate. They have a more refined sensibility, a great sense of themselves, and the imagery that used to be used was designed to provoke.”
It has closed, shrunk, and remodeled its stores.
The company has trimmed its store fleet, closing 450 of its stores across all brands since 2010. Earlier this year, it said it would close another 60 stores in 2018, though this number was reduced to 40 on Thursday.
As well as trimming its store fleet, Abercrombie & Fitch has been opening new prototype stores and downsizing or remodeling others.
In 2017, it created seven new prototype stores. These stores have more of a boutique feel, with curated collections of clothing and luxurious fitting rooms with seating areas and charging stations.
“We are evolving as the retail pattern is evolving,” Joanne Crevoiserat, chief operating officer at Abercrombie & Fitch, told Business Insider in June.
It doubled down on its efforts to stop being seen as a teen retailer. This included improving its assortment.
Abercrombie wants to target the 18-to-24-year-old shopper, someone who is transitioning from college to their first job and beginning their first adventure, Horowitz said.
To appeal to this shopper, it has improved its assortment and made the clothing more sophisticated.
“In our view, the range – especially at Abercrombie – is now more sophisticated, is more on-trend, and better reflects what modern consumers want,” Saunders said on Thursday.
It also started offering cash-free payment options.
In August, the company announced that it launched a new feature on the Abercrombie and Hollister apps that allows customers to purchase items using their Venmo account.
“Venmo is an increasingly popular payment option among our millennial and Gen Z customer bases. As a company, we aim to provide engaging, seamless brand experiences,” Crevoiserat said in a statement to the press at the time.
Millennial and Gen Z shoppers are known for embracing the use of digital payments. Since 2014, the popularity of cash has been declining while the use of cards has increased, according to Business Insider Intelligence data.
And it branched out into experiences.
In July, Abercrombie announced it would be partnering with hotel and lifestyle chain sbe, which operates trendy hotel brands in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, to offer pop-up Abercrombie shops at some of its hotels.
It also said it would reward members of its A&F Club loyalty program with special benefits at sbe’s hotels and entertainment venues.
“We plan to make further marketing investments in experiences: communicating with our target customer through the right channels and creating authentic, customer-inspired events,” a spokesperson for Abercrombie & Fitch told Business Insider at the time.
Lastly, Abercrombie focused on providing an omnichannel shopping experience.
Abercrombie’s management team has repeatedly stressed in recent earnings calls and conversations with Business Insider that the company is doubling down on its efforts to meet the customer where they want to shop. That ultimately means more online and physical store integration.
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