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The surf industry's nemesis, the Hollister retail chain owned by Abercrombie & Fitch, is actively looking for sites abroad, Reuters reported today.
Hollister clothes basically mirror styles created by Orange County surf brands, but are designed at Abercrombie & Fitch headquarters in Ohio. The stores look like upscale surf shops, with couches, surf magazines and boards on the walls. Teens love to hang there, and the clothing price points are lower than authentic surf brands.
A couple months ago I was at the Irvine Spectrum Center on a Friday night. The Hollister store was jammed with kids hanging out and shopping. There was a line at the cash register. I walked over to PacSun store and it was empty. I was the only customer in the place.
When I interviewed PacSun CEO Sally Frame Kasaks, I told her that story. She acknowledged that was a problem and said the PacSun remodel program should make the stores more inviting.
Long before Kasaks arrived, I remember former CEO Greg Weaver telling me international expansion could be in PacSun's future. But as the company struggled domestically, those plans haven't materialized. Now Hollister will beat them to the punch.
Hollister has 422 stores across the U.S., more than its sister Abercrombie & Fitch chain. PacSun is still much larger than Hollister, with 841 PacSun stores.
Hollister's web site is worth checking out for the sheer audacity. They even have a live Webcam at the Huntington Beach pier.