Abercrombie & Fitch to close in Tupelo

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Abercrombie & Fitch will close its Tupelo store this month, as part of a corporate initiative to rid the chain of underperforming stores.
In August, Abercrombie & Fitch said it would close 60 stores by the end of 2010 and another 50 stores this year, representing nearly a third of its A&F-branded stores.
The store inside The Mall at Barnes Crossing will close Jan. 15.
Employees at the store have been telling customers the store is closing, and a manager confirmed the news Friday.
Philip Purdom, a executive with mall owner David Hocker & Associates, confirmed that Abercrombie’s lease is ending.
The store will not be replaced with Abercrombie’s Hollister brand, he said. He declined to comment further. Officials at Abercrombie’s corporate office couldn’t be reached for comment last week.
The New Albany, Ohio-based apparel retailer has 1,098 locations in the U.S., including 339 Abercrombie & Fitch stores, 202 abercrombie kids stores, 509 Hollister stores and 17 Gilly Hicks stores.
Jonathan Ramsden, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in August that most of closures were “natural lease expirations” along with some lease buyouts and early closures.
He also said the stores targeted for closure were averaging about $1 million in annual sales.
Ramsden said that most of the mall locations being closed nationwide were “never particularly good stores and if you look how they performed over the last few years, they’ve sort of underperformed.”
The company, which saw its sales plummet during the recession, did post higher third-quarter sales and earnings. But in closing what it deems “underperforming” stores, Abercrombie hopes to regain its status as a unique and premium retailer, moving away from the “teen retail” category in which it has been lumped in recent years.
“The solution is to reduce the footprint, refocus more and reposition upwards,” Ramsden said.
Store closures are expected to cost the company more than $160 million in the fourth quarter.

Carlie Kollath contributed to this story.