Contemporary Retail Environments: Abercrombie & Fitch Introduction Throughout malls, department stores, and standalone shops, everyday citizens are exposed to a jungle of retail environments. While these individuals are exposed to these retail environments on a daily basis, most are unaware of the carefully constructed nature of stores…
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One such company is the teen clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch. Through reference to contemporary retail theory, this report investigates Abercrombie & Fitch’s retail environment. Abercrombie & Fitch Background While Abercrombie & Fitch is popularly recognized for its modern fashions and pop culture style, the company has a long history dating back to the 19th century. Indeed, David Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch founded the company as a sporting goods store in 1892 (Zuidhof 2007). During the early 20th century David Abercrombie left the organization, but Ezra Fitch continued operations. Fitch would witness successful company operations and expansion until his retirement in 1928 (Zuidhof 2007). During the period Fitch controlled the organization they expanded from sporting goods to a wide-array of amenities, including clothing and board games. The organization was the first company to carry the game Mahjong and they even outfitted Charles Lindberg for his flight across the Atlantic. After Fitch’s retirement his brother-in-law James S. Cobb purchased the organization. After Cobb assumed controlled the organization further expanded, purchasing Von Lengerke & Detmold, a European dealer of sportings guns. The company continued in relative prosperity until the 1970s when they increasingly experienced declining revenue. Ultimately, the company was forced to declare chapter 11 bankruptcy. In 1977 the company closed until it was bought in 1978 by sporting goods retailer Oshman’s for $1.5 million (Zuidhof 2007). The Oshman era experienced tepid success until it was bought out in 1988 by Limited Brands (Zuidhof 2007). New president Sally Frame-Kasak would move the organization into a decidedly fashion retail direction. This direction was further enhanced in 1992 when clothing executive Michael S. Jeffries assumed the presidency. Jeffries would further shift company emphasis from simply clothing to teenage apparel. From this 1992 period until the present day the company has largely maintained this market structure and has expanded with relative success. The contemporary incarnation of Abercrombie & Fitch five brands: Abercrombie & Fitch, AbercrombieKids, Hollister and RUEHL and Gilly Hicks: Sydney brands. While each of these brands reaches out to different market segments structural changes in the retail environment, the Abercrombie & Fitch storefront, with its ‘classic cool’ theme, remains the flagship offering. Analysis Overarching Theoretical Paradigm One of the most overarching concerns in terms of Abercrombie & Fitch’s contemporary retail environment is the notion of the servicescape. Broadly speaking, the servicescape is the impact of the physical environment in which a service takes place. Booms and Bitner (1981, pg. 36) first established the notion of the servicescape, noting it is, “the environment in which the service is assembled and in which the seller and customer interact, combined with tangible commodities that facilitate performance or communication of the service.” Not merely Abercrombie & Fitch, but indeed all retail environments, this is a pervasive notion for its nearly all-encompassing subject criteria; indeed, Bitner (1992) expanded this notion to include three physical environ
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