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Abercrombie & Fitch gunning for UK locations to launch Hollister Co

Abercrombie & Fitch is scouring the UK for sites to launch its surf-inspired Hollister Co chain.

The US retailer has approached retail agents and landlords and is understood to be scouting several London locations, including Regent Street and the Westfield shopping centre in London's White City, which opens next year.

The company opened its first Abercrombie & Fitch store in the UK in March, a 13,000sq ft flagship on the corner of Savile Row.

Hollister Co has 600 stores across the US and sells casualwear with a younger, more surf-inspired handwriting than Abercrombie & Fitch, with prices about 30% lower.

Its US stores are roughly 2,000sq ft smaller than Abercrombie & Fitch's, but the business may boost its UK store size to maximise its impact and capitalise on the popularity of the casual surfwear look in the UK.

Abercrombie & Fitch declined to comment.

George Wallace, chief executive of retail consultancy MHE Retail, said Hollister Co could have a tough ride due to a lack of recognition. He said: "UK customers are almost totally unaware of the Hollister Co brand, so the business will want to benefit from the halo effect surrounding the opening of Abercrombie & Fitch by launching soon."

Hollister Co's pricing could prove expensive for its target 15- to 22-year-old shoppers if it follows Abercrombie & Fitch's UK price strategy. The UK store offers a US$50 top priced at £50, rather than a straight conversion from dollars to sterling. "If it does the same with Hollister Co it will have to be careful," said Wallace. "There may be resistance to premium prices."

Commenting on the UK introduction of Hollister Co, Darren Conway, men's buyer at Essex-based young fashion mini-chain Choice, said: "I think it will do really well. People are always intrigued by a new product, even if it comes at a higher price tag, and the Hollister style is popular in the UK. The shopfit is similar to Abercrombie & Fitch and it's got an energetic vibe."


2005 net sales: US$1bn


Polo shirts: US$24 to US$39 (£12 to £20)

Jeans: US$39 to US$69 (£20 to £35)

Dresses: US$34 to US$39 (£17.50 to £20).

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