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US brand A&F heading east

Source : BUSINESS_STANDARD
Last Updated: Mon, Jul 18, 2011 18:50 hrs

The casual luxury brand is planning to expand more in Asia and Europe.

Ohio-based casual luxury brand, Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), is exploring opportunities to enter the India market, said industry insiders. With the American economy still recovering with the market reaching full potential, US companies like Abercombie is planning to tap emerging markets for luxury buys.

Eric Cerny, manager, investor relations, at A&F, told Business Standard: “We are looking at a number of international opportunities for our brands over the next few years.” He, however, did not elaborate on the compay’s India-specific plans.

While Abercombie operates 1,069 stores across four brands, the A&F brand has 325 outlets in the US, four in Canada, one each in London, Milan, Tokyo, Copenhagen and Paris. Other international cities to house A&F stores this year are Madrid, Brussels and Dublin. Even a Hong Kong A&F store is expected to come up soon, but the date is yet to be announced.

Japan is the only Asian country to have an A&F brand outlet, which was till recently known for its ‘near luxury’ clothing. Now, the A&F has been redefined as ‘casual luxury’ brand. Cerny said the company did not have any “publicly announced opening plans” for India at this point in time. He, however, added the company would make further announcements on international expansions in its quarterly earnings calls.

When A&F opened its first flagship outlet in Paris at Champs Elysees recently, Parisians had queued up for the first look, said reports. As international growth sales have begun outpacing the US sales, A&F is likely to focus more on international expansions over the next few years, a retail consultant said.

At its last quarterly earnings call, the company said its international expansion plans would depend on several factors and any could delay or prevent successful penetration into new markets or could adversely affect the profitability of its international operations.

India has only 30 per cent of the world’s leading 500 global luxury brands, compared to China’s 70 per cent, according to industry estimates. Luxury brands in India include Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, Cartier, Tod’s, Dior, Fendi, Burberry, Hugo Boss, DKNY, Ravissant and Louis Vitton, among others.

India also accounts for less than one per cent of the global luxury market, while China has 10 per cent of the market.



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