Seems like Abercrombie's still on top, no pun intended.
The New Albany, Ohio-based company posted an 8% sales increase during the fourth quarter, reaching $1.23 billion, and a 9% boost in net income, which registered at $216.7 million. For the full year, sales grew 13% to $3.75 billion, and profits rising 12.6% to $475.7 million.
While the picture was pretty glossy for the most part, the company did note a slowdown in sales for its Ruehl line, according to statement from CFO Michael Kramer, in a conference call.
"Unfortunately, sales productivity declined in the second half of 2007, as we began to anniversary markdowns from fiscal 2006," said Kramer. "We anticipate lower sales productivity compared to last year through most of the first half of 2008 as we continue to anniversary the high markdown levels associated with Ruehl...Until we can establish Ruehl as a proven concept we will moderate the pace of new store openings."
But despite that bad news, it was all sunshine and rainbows from Chairman/CEO Mike Jeffries.
"Our brands represent high productive, consistent businesses that are the result of an unyielding focus on merchandise quality and customer experience," said Jeffries, in a statement. "We continue to make strategic investments in the business to sustain and to enhance brand quality and to support future growth, both domestically and internationally."
Well, at least one of those "strategic investments" includes a $300 million initiative to remodel existing and construct new stores in 2008, as well as the brand's decision to bring back its porn-a-log, A&F Quarterly, which has raised eyebrows in the past for its debatably pornographic imagery, not to mention its lack of actual clothes on lifestyle models. (Well, some things never change in that department.)
The new Quarterly has puzzled us for a while too, and not just for the obvious reasons everyone else seems to have cited which include, chiefly, that the guys aren't wearing underwear in their dungarees. What's gotten us stumped is why the campaign is still all-white.
While we admit we haven't seen the most recent installment, the images on the brand's Web site include the same line up of idealized white models that were featured (although they have changed the bodies they're using, natch, since the shelf life of fashion models is relatively short if you're not of the Naomi ilk) when we were covering their legal discrimination troubles at El Diario/La Prensa (our Spanish-language journo days).
Check out a few shots from the current campaign, below.
Listen, we're no Pollyannas about this stuff, and are well aware that it's widespread issue in the industry, but after so many issues of its own discriminatory mess (remember those "Two Wongs Can Make it White" tees?) we just have to wonder why Abercrombie wouldn't just toss a bone out and include one minority in its prominent imaging? C'mon guys, help colorize our wank bank!