The company will focus on growing in Asia and the Middle East this year
Dubai: US apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch looks to double the number of stores in the Middle East in the next three to five years, according to its top executive.
The company has partnered with Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim Fashion and currently has seven outlets in the region, with five in Dubai and two in Kuwait.
“We don’t have a firm plan yet but it wouldn’t surprise me that over the next three to five years, between both brands [Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch], we would double the number of stores,” Arthur Martinez, chairman of Abercrombie & Fitch, told Gulf News in an interview in Dubai on Wednesday.
The majority of the company’s stores in the region are under the Hollister brand. It opened two Abercrombie & Fitch outlets in Kuwait and one in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates last year. On Friday, it will open a Hollister store in Mirdif City Centre in Dubai.
Martinez sees demand for the company’s brands that appeal to teenagers and consumers in their 20s in this region, where there is a significant young population.
“The population here is right. This is a young region. Hollister appeals primarily to teenagers and Abercrombie & Fitch is an older brand in the 20-29 range. If you look at the demographics of the region, the youthful population here, it’s a perfect match,” he said.
The brands are “iconic American brands that have a resonance for consumers that live here,” he added.
Abercrombie & Fitch will focus this year on expanding in the Middle East and Asia, while it closes stores in North America as consumers increasingly shop online. It looks to enter Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and plans to open 6-7 stores this year in China, where there is an expanding middle class and a growing appetite for western brands, Martinez said.
“The focus is not in North America. We don’t have a need for substantial expansion of our store profile in North America. We’ve been closing stores there as our digital efforts become more relevant. The opportunities are Asia and this region,” he said.
Elsewhere in Asia, the company is “exploring methods of entry into markets like Indonesia and the Philippines,” he said, adding that it will probably enter these markets with partners.
In a move to enhance its image, Abercrombie & Fitch recently appointed Ashley Price as its new creative director of marketing.
“She is responsible for all the creative execution. She is responsible for the store design and marketing materials used to promote the brand,” Martinez said.