February 20, 2008, 12:00 AM

The youth market drives web sales at Abercrombie & Fitch

Other apparel retailers might be struggling with declining sales brought on by a weaker economy, but the web is driving revenue higher at Abercrombie & Fitch. In 2007 e-commerce grew by almost 50%.

Other apparel retailers might be struggling with declining sales brought about by a weaker economy, but the web is driving revenue higher at Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

In 2007, Abercrombie, No. 67 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, posted web sales of $260 million, an increase of 48.6% from web sales of $175 million in 2006, and up 136.4% from just $110 million in 2005. In comparison, comparable store sales declined in 2007 by 1%.

For the year, Abercrombie posted net income of $475.7 million on revenue of $3.75 billion, compared with net income of $422.2 million on sales of $3.31 billion in 2006. “Our brands represent highly productive, consistent businesses that are the result of an unyielding focus on merchandise quality and customer experience,” says CEO Mike Jeffries. “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.” In 2007 the web accounted for 8% of total sales, compared with 5% in 2006.

To grow sales, Abercrombie, which sells primarily to younger adults age 19-34, is adding more web sites. In October, it launched Ruehl.com, an e-commerce site for its concept store, which is based on styles found in New York’s West Greenwich Village. The site features Ruehl handbags, cologne and perfume and offers shoppers a photo gallery of featured products, store locator, and registration for e-mail announcements about new products and music played in its stores. The e-commerce site will offer men’s and women’s casual apparel, jeans, outerwear and gift cards in spring 2008, the company says.

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