August 18, 2015 / 12:18 PM / 4 years ago

Abercrombie hires top designers to turn around A&F brand

(Reuters) - Struggling teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co (ANF.N) has hired designers and executives from top brands such as Ralph Lauren, Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger as it looks to turn around its business.

People walk by an Abercrombie & Fitch Co store in Pasadena, California March 3, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Shares of the company, which is still searching for a permanent CEO, skidded 8 percent to their lowest in more than six years on concerns that a turnaround could take time.

The appointments come after two years of falling quarterly sales as young shoppers lose interest in the company’s logo-centric apparel.

The company’s mainstay Abercrombie & Fitch brand has also been hurt by intense competition from “fast-fashion” retailers such as Forever 21, Inditex’s (ITX.MC) Zara and H&M (HMb.ST).

Analysts said a it would take time for the new team to find its stride.

“While this is another sign that ANF is moving in the right direction, it also underscores how long the road may be towards bringing back the brand and improving financial results,” Topeka Capital Markets analyst Dorothy Lakner wrote in a note.

Abercrombie said on Tuesday it hired designers Aaron Levine from Ralph Lauren Corp (RL.N) and Kristina Szasz from PVH Corp (PVH.N) to head design at its A&F men’s and women’s units, respectively.

Levine, who joined Abercrombie in July, headed men’s design at Ralph Lauren’s Club Monaco chain. Szasz, who will join in September, was design director for denim at PVH’s Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger brands in Europe.

“One of the main tasks of the new team, in our view, is to figure out what A&F should be and who the customer is,” Lakner said. “When we walk into stores now, we just don’t know.”

The company also hired Kurt Hoffman from Club Monaco, Monica Margerum from Kohl’s Corp (KSS.N) and Amy Sveda from Carter’s Inc (CRI.N). Abercrombie appointed Stacie Beaver, who has been with the company for over 15 years in various senior roles, to the newly-created position of general manager for A&F women’s.

Abercrombie’s shares were down 6.1 percent at $17.99 by afternoon. Up to Monday’s close, the stock had fallen 33 percent this year.

Reporting by Rishika Sadam and Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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