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Abercrombie & Fitch Debuts Multi-Sensory Store Format

Specialty youth apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch will open a new store format called EPIC Hollister in New York, NY on July 16. Abercrombie describes the 40,000-square-foot, four-story store as "pure California fantasy."

The format will feature "sight, sound, scent, taste, touch and positive energy," according to Retailer Daily. On a microsite dedicated to EPIC Hollister, Abercrombie says the store will feature flatscreens with live feeds of surfers on Huntington Beach, CA.

The site also allows customers to submit applications to be store models, as well as interactive features such as screensavers, desktop settings and online postcards. Abercrombie has not released specific details about what exactly will set EPIC Hollister apart from other specialty youth apparel stores.

Plans for the fresh store format move forward despite recent mixed financial news for the retailer and the specialty youth retail segment in general. Last month, Abercrombie reduced headcount at its corporate headquarters by 170 employees. The layoffs equaled close to 10% of the approximately 2,000 employees working at Abercrombie’s headquarters in New Albany, OH. They followed drops in net profits and revenues during Q4 2008, although Q4 results still beat analyst expectations.

Abercrombie has also said it plans to open flagship stores in Milan, Italy and Tokyo, Japan in 2009, although planned flagship openings in Copenhagen, Denmark and New York, NY have been pushed back to 2010.

As mentioned above, the specialty youth retail segment has also reported mixed financial results. Aeropostale had strong increases in areas such as net sales and net income during Q4 and fiscal year 2008, aided by dramatic improvements in its e-commerce business. American Apparel also had a strong Q4 and fiscal year 2008, especially in the areas of net and comparable store sales. However, Pacific Sunwear recorded financial losses in 2008, with total sales, operating income and same-store sales declining during Q4 and the whole fiscal year.

Abercrombie operates more than 1,100 stores worldwide. Its Hollister banner operates 514 stores worldwide.

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