Abercrombie & Fitch goes to college with a new store concept
Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) is still looking for the right way to reinvent itself. So, the once-popular apparel brand is heading to college campuses with a new small-store concept, where it might learn a new path forward.
A&F is launching a small format “Learning Lab” store concept near two college campuses — one in the Gateway-University District near Ohio State University in Columbus, OH and one near the University of Southern California, according to Columbus Underground. The company plans to use a brand ambassador program on campus to build loyalty, and will use the stores to garner insights on experiential marketing and driving revenue with smaller footprint locations.
This isn’t the chain’s first exploration into downsizing, as the retailer has been trying out stores with smaller footprints, reports WWD. The Learning Labs will be less than half the size of a traditional A&F store.
A&F has, however, had mixed results with some of its other attempts in recent years to find its footing in the new millennium.
In 2015, to demonstrate a move toward maturity, the chain removed bare-chested male greeters from stores and events while relaxing its dress code for employees.
A year later, the chain began pursuing a rebranding in an attempt to appeal to the 18-to-25-year-old demographic rather than its traditional teen audience.
In 2017, A&F continued making changes, including the launch of its first new store concept in 15 years. The new unit, which opened in the Polaris Fashion Mall in Columbus, OH, features store-within-the-store concepts for denim and fragrances as well as improved fitting rooms, cash wraps throughout for easier checkout and a buy online, pickup in-store service.
Despite its various initiatives, the retailer continued to see sales decline until its fiscal first quarter on this year when net sales jumped 11 percent year-over-year and comps rose five percent. Direct-to-consumer net sales increased 14 percent.
The chain has also been discussed as the potential object of an acquisition. Last year, American Eagle Outfitters in conjunction with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management were reported to be working on a bid for A&F.
- Abercrombie & Fitch Announces New Store Concept on Campus – Columbus Underground
- Abercrombie’s New Learning Labs – WWD
- How long before Abercrombie & Fitch’s rebranding takes hold? – RetailWire
- Does an American Eagle Outfitters bid for Abercrombie & Fitch add up? – RetailWire
- Abercrombie & Fitch Co. Reports First Quarter Results – Abercrombie & Fitch /Globe Newswire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think the information garnered in Abercrombie & Fitch’s Learning Lab store concept will be valuable for the reinvention of its regular stores? Do you see A&F’s future moving more towards its new Polaris, OH concept or its Learning Lab locations?