Motley Fool  Jun 21  Comment 
I missed the teen retailer's turnaround by being too negative.
Wall Street Journal  Jun 1  Comment 
Abercrombie & Fitch reported better-than-expected sales in the latest quarter but the performance wasn’t received well by investors as specialty retailers struggle to qualm industry skeptics’ concerns.
Motley Fool  Jun 1  Comment 
On a positive day for the indexes, these stocks bucked the trend. Find out why.
Motley Fool  Jun 1  Comment 
A&F beat earnings estimates by losing less money than feared, but rising operating costs may be spooking investors.
Benzinga  Jun 1  Comment 
Following the market opening Friday, the Dow traded up 0.80 percent to 24,610.87 while the NASDAQ climbed 0.89 percent to 7,508.09. The S&P also rose, gaining 0.83 percent to 2,727.68. Leading and Lagging Sectors Friday morning, the financial...
MarketWatch  Jun 1  Comment 
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. shares jumped nearly 5% in Friday premarket trading after the apparel retailer reported first-quarter revenue that beat expectations. Abercrombie & Fitch reported a net loss of $42.5 million, or 62 cents per share, after a...


Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) sells its own brand of fashion-conscious clothing and accessories to a customer base that is primarily under 30 years old. Abercrombie sells the vast majority of its wares in American malls through its four different store brands (Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie, Hollister, and Gilly Hicks)[1], each of which caters to different age groups. ANF generated $3.47 billion in net sales in 2010, up from $2.9 billion in 2009.[2] ANF top competitors are Gap (GPS), Aeropostale (ARO) and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO).

Abercrombie & Fitch opened its first Asian flagship in Japan in December 2009, meaning it can take advantage of the Asian market, which has been a focus for the retail industry. However, as a fashion retailer, ANF is also susceptible to changing fashion trends and increasing commodity prices.

Business Overview

ANF sells premium-priced apparel and accessories and through its four independently-branded stores: Abercrombie & Fitch; abercrombie; Hollister Co.; and its newest concept Gilly Hicks. As of Apr 4, 2010 ANF operated 1098 total stores across its four brands in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. ANF manufactures and distributes its own private label clothing under each of its four in-house brands. Each of ANF's brands also sells products to customers directly via catalogs and e-commerce operations.

Business Segments

ANF operates in one aggregate business segment.

Geographic Presence

Business Growth

Fiscal 2010 Results (ended January 29th, 2011)

  • Net sales increased 18.4% to $3.47 billion.[3]
  • ANF reported net income of $150.3 million compared to $254,000 in fiscal 2009.[3]

Trends and Forces

Expansion to new markets in Asia

New wealth has been developing in Asia, specifically in China and India. The retail industry has sought to get in on the ground floor of the rapid development of the area by establishing a presence in Asia. Establishing a brand in Asia, especially when spending power in the area is increasing, can have repercussions in the future.

Seasonal Strength in the Second Half of the Year (Back-to-School and Holidays)

Because the overwhelming majority of the customers of ANF's brands range from 7 to 22 years old, many are students at some level of education. As a result, ANF traditionally experiences a significant boost in sales in August as students shop in preparation for school. The back-to-school shopping season also boosts sales for ANF's competitors such as American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), Aeropostale (ARO) and Pacific Sunwear of California (PSUN). In addition, the holiday season (November and December) is a big time for retail industries as customers begin to buy Christmas presents. Many of ANF's aforementioned competitors have incorporated sales into their business models at those specific times, meaning they want to take advantage of times when shopping is at its highest and make sure their customers are inclined to spend money at their stores. Until recently, however, ANF did not incorporate sales into its pricing strategy out of the belief that doing so would tarnish the "luxury" label the brand has cultivated.[4] When a recession hit the American economy in the end of 2008, however, ANF began to place seasonal goods on clearance to get rid of excess inventory. In addition it is currently seeking to introduce new, lower-priced items into its Hollister and kids lines. [5] ANF's decision to reassess its pricing strategy can help ANF to retain its customers who are feeling the pinch of the recession.

Increases in Commodity Prices Will Raise Clothing Retailer Prices

Cotton consumption exceeded cotton production for the fifth year in the row, making cotton prices increase by 80.5% from last year.[6] [7] Natural disasters also severely damaged crops in many large cotton producer countries, such as China, India, and Pakistan. This led to decreases in cotton exports from these countries and increases in cotton imports as these countries sought to supplement their supply of cotton. [8][9] With limited cotton supplies and rising prices, retailers will either have to absorb these higher material costs, restructure the composition of their clothing to have less cotton, or pass these higher costs to its consumers. Higher clothing prices or lower quality clothing could discourage consumer spending, resulting in decreased net sales. However, adult or teen clothing retailers may not be too adversely affected as their clothing (which is usually 30-40% cotton based) has more flexibility in their composition and thus, costs. In addition, raising commodity prices in other areas will also raise costs for retailers. While premium price and established brands may be able to pass their higher costs to their consumers, value based companies may not fare as well and may suffer from lower profit margins.[6]


ANF competes with a bevy of apparel and accessory retailers competing for the 14-30 year old demographic. ANF has consistently been at the top of its sector in terms of profitability and sales. As a point of reference, the approximate average price for a pair of men's jeans at Abercrombie & Fitch is $80 compared with $45 at American Eagle, $25 at Aeropostale and $50 at Gap.

Abercrombie & Fitch's competitors include:

  • American Eagle Outfitters (AEO): American Eagle competes directly for the same customers (young men and women between the ages of 15 and 25} with Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister stores. AEO is smaller than ANF in terms of total sales and profits, but AEO has exhibited stronger growth recently than ANF.[10]
  • Aeropostale (ARO): Aeropostale is a smaller company than ANF, operating only one brand of stores that targets 14 to 17 year olds. Aeropostale's business model also relies heavily on sales and promotions as opposed to ANF's high-quality, premium-price strategy. However, Aeropostale recently launched a new concept called Jimmy'Z, which is a chain of stores targeting 18-24 year olds with surf inspired apparel which will compete directly with Hollister stores if the concept grows. [11]
  • Pacific Sunwear of California (PSUN): Pacific Sunwear primarily serves several different customer segments through its three retail chains: PacSun, demo, and One Thousand Steps. PacSun stores are based mostly around trends in the alternative sports (surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, etc.) lifestyle and offer third-party branded as well as private label apparel, footwear and accessories to teenagers and young adults. Finally, demo stores target 16 to 24 year olds with fashion and accessories influenced by hip-hop lifestyle and One Thousand Steps offer a wide range of casual footwear to the 18 to 24 year old customer segment. Because Pacific Sunwear's operations depend largely upon third-party brands, footwear and different lifestyle-focused customer segments it is less comparable to ANF than American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) or Aeropostale (ARO). [12]
  • Urban Outfitters (URBN): Urban Outfitters is a relatively young retailer that operates three different branded store chains, Urban Outfitters (18 to 30 year olds), Anthropologie (30 to 45 year old women), and Free People (16 to 35 year old women). Urban Outfitters is not as directly comparable to ANF due to its slight differentiation in targeted customer segments.


  • Gap (GPS): Gap is a much larger company than ANF in terms of sales, stores and customer segments targeted. Through variations on Gap (Gap Kids, babyGap, Gap Maternity) the retailer serves a wide range of customers; also, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores serve different socio-economic segments. Because of the wider range of customers, Gap doesn't match up with ANF as closely as some other competitors, however there is considerable overlap. [14]


  • ANF saw large increases in international sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 with international sales increasing 64%. [15]


  1. 2006, 10-k, Overview, Pg.15
  2. 2009, 10-K, Item 7, Pg. 32
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 ANF 2010 10-k
  4. "Abercrombie & Fitch Co. F4Q08 (Qtr End 01/31/09) Earnings Call Transcript".
  5. 6.0 6.1 http://seekingalpha.com/article/238731-more-evidence-of-inflation-retailers-report-escalating-commodity-prices
  6. Gap, Wal-Mart Clothing Costs Rise on ‘Terrifying’ Cotton Prices
  7. http://www.thegovmonitor.com/world_news/asia/recession-drought-hail-reduce-cotton-acreage-in-china-12256.html
  8. CNN Money - Cotton Shortage Could Inflate Clothing Prices
  9. AEO Hoovers
  10. ARO Hoovers
  11. PSUN Hoovers
  12. URBN Hoovers
  13. GPS Hoovers
  14. [http://seekingalpha.com/article/276730-2-reasons-abercrombie-fitch-smokes-the-competition-and-remains-hot
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