Fran Horowitz recently joined several retail industry CEOs and executives at WWD’s Apparel and Retail CEO Summit. With the theme of Thriving in a Post-Boom World, the presentations, panels and discussions focused on how brands are connecting with ever-evolving customers in this post-pandemic environment.
In a Fireside discussion with WWD Men’s Editor, Jean Palmieri, Fran had the opportunity to share how she’s led Abercrombie & Fitch Co. through its transformation and how her north star of “keeping the customer at the center of everything we do” was the key to the company’s successful turnaround. With a career focused on building brands, Fran knew she was taking on a challenge by joining the company in 2014, but nine years later, both Hollister and Abercrombie are in positions of strength.
Fran discussed the importance of rallying her team around the idea of belonging versus fitting in and shifting the company culture to operate with a customer-focused mindset. She advocates for always listening to the customer and shared examples of how the brands have evolved their product offerings based on specific feedback. This includes A&F’s Curve Love fit and YPB (Your Personal Best) activewear line, which were both designed after customers directly asked for these products to be added to the assortment.
She spoke about the importance of the power of the playbook; getting the product right first and then aligning that with the appropriate voice and experience. Today, the brands are seeing success with their influencer and affiliate programs, and the updated store design, which is smaller and more open, is also resonating with global customers. With the product, voice and experience working in sync, the company’s most recent quarterly results speak for themselves, with total net sales up 16% in Q2 2023.
Fran concluded her discussion by sharing that the transformation was not easy and the company is still on a journey. She explained the importance of the test and learn mindset embedded at A&F Co., and her mantra that if something is not working, “we own it, pivot and keep going”. With her “always forward” mentality, Fran pushes the global team to evolve and grow both personally and professionally as we enter the next chapter of Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s journey.
To read more about her WWD Fireside chat, click here.