Abercrombie and Fitch is an American retailer with its headquarters located in New Albany, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. The company predominantly focuses on upscale casual clothing for young consumers, mainly college students. It operates over 300 store locations in the U.S, and is expanding internationally in stores for children and youngsters; and also publishes a quarterly combination catalog/magazine.
Abercrombie & Fitch was founded in 1892 in the Manhattan borough, New York, by Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch. The company was the best outfitter of sporting and excursion goods, mostly noted for its expensive fishing rods, shotguns, tents, and fishing boats. It continued to grow, opening up other stores in San Francisco and Chicago. But in the early ��70s, the store hit upon hard times and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1976. In 1977, it finally closed its store which was located at Madison Avenue and East 45th Street.
In 1978, Oshman’s Sporting Goods, based in Houston, Texas, bought defunct firm’s name and mailing list. Jake Oshman, who was the owner, re-launched the company as a mail-order retailer that mainly specialized in hunting wear and novelty items. Business wasn’t good so they decided to sell the company operations and name to The Limited in 1988. The Limited was a clothing-chain operator based in Columbus, Ohio. A&F progressively shifted its focus to teenagers, initially as a subsidiary of Limited Brands and then as an independent, publicly traded corporation; and grew gradually to become one of the largest apparel firms in the U.S.
The Abercrombie and Fitch Company has consistently kept a high-profile in the public eye since 1997, due to its philanthropy, great efforts in advertising, and involvement in the legal conflicts over clothing style, branding, and also employment practices. During the first ten years of the 21st century, the company experienced a great recession as teenagers looked to lower-priced fast fashion brands. This led to the stock price dropping from $84.23 in October 2007 to as low as $14.64 in November 2008. A&F worked to cut off its underperforming stores and overhaul its merchandise mix, nevertheless uninspiring performance continued. In December 2014, Michael Jeffries who was the CEO stepped down after 22 years with the company.
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Later on, Abercrombie & Fitch decided to make key changes basically to change its image and fight the stiff competition it was facing from fast-fashion retailers like H&M and Forever 21. These changes aimed at eliminating sexualized pictures and advertising on bags, gift cards, and focus mainly on diversity and customer service. A&F signaled to implement the changes quickly, and in 2015, the changes were already apparent in stores. Store models were no longer dressed in Abercrombie clothes but Brand representatives with a unique dress code. The representatives focused more on excellent customer service delivery by asking customers for help in stores, contrary to the past policies of aloofness. Also, all the permanent advert images which were placed on the cash wrap and fitting rooms had been removed.
And as of today, A&F succeeds as a publicly held company with a powerful lifestyle brand, and its business thriving with hundreds of stores.