Abercrombie & Fitch names new CFO, expands overseas
Abercrombie & Fitch last week announced that Scott D. Lipesky will return to the company as senior vice president and chief financial officer, effective Oct. 2. He will report to EVP and Chief Operating Officer Joanne C. Crevoiserat, who has been serving as CFO even after her promotion to COO in February, according to a company press release.
Lipesky brings more than 20 years of experience from the retail and manufacturing sectors in financial planning & analysis, corporate finance, merchandise planning, accounting and treasury, including nine years with Abercrombie, most recently as CFO of its Hollister brand. He was most recently CFO of American Signature Inc., a privately-held home furnishings company. He began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he qualified as a CPA.
The company also announced an expansion in the Middle East through its partnership with Majid Al Futtaim, a leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure company in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Abercrombie said it will open the first Abercrombie store, including a shop-in-shop for its abercrombie kids brand, at the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah.
Abercrombie continues to populate its top ranks with executives from Hollister, its much healthier brand. Same-store sales in its most recent quarter for the company on the whole fell 1%, the third straight quarter of improvement in that measure. By brand, Hollister continued its momentum, with Q2 same-store sales up 5% and 4% year to date, and Q2 net sales rising 6% to $446.6 million. Abercrombie same-store sales fell 7% in the quarter and 8% year to date, as Q2 net sales decreased 8% to $332.7 million.
CEO Fran Horowitz shepherded the Hollister brand herself before taking on the chief spot for the company. Her arrival from the well-performing Hollister is no accident, and executives last month emphasized that they’re taking lessons from the better-performing brand. "We are pleased with our progress we made with A&F," Horowitz told analysts on a conference call last month. "The journey started later than the Hollister journey … and we continue to apply Hollister learnings." That includes a reduced SKU count and more depth in higher performing merchandise, executives also said.
Indeed, Hollister is gaining market share as its sibling brand continues to falter, according to GlobalData Retail analyst Håkon Helgesen. "While Hollister has successfully navigated the path of reinvention, Abercrombie is still struggling along and has made only limited progress," he noted in an email to Retail Dive. "[I]t is clear that A&F is a company of two halves: Hollister is recovering nicely and is gaining ground, while Abercrombie is showing some signs of life but is still struggling overall.”
Meanwhile, the company’s expansion abroad reflects its strength outside the U.S. The brand has enjoyed ardor overseas that never cooled quite as much as it did in the U.S. — and it's also been working to solidify its presence in Asia. In April, the retailer entered into a wholesale agreement with Zalora, a major fashion e-commerce company based in Singapore and operating in six markets, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Zalora, which has captured the attention of millions of Southeast Asian shoppers since launching five years ago, is a good choice of partner. Zalora earlier inked a similar deal with Topshop.
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