NEW ALBANY, OH-Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has announced plans to expand throughout Europe. This comes after its initial foray abroad with the opening of a flagship Abercrombie & Fitch unit at Seven Burlington Gardens in London this March and management’s announcement during a conference call in February that it was exploring “key European markets.”

The intention has moved to commitment with the hiring of New York City-based PBS Real Estate and its principal Laura Pomerantz as exclusive European and UK real estate consultant to identify locations the company says, “best support the Abercrombie & Fitch brand attributes.” The search includes Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Sweden in addition to the UK.

Pomerantz has previously worked on the retailer’s domestic expansion and was instrumental in securing Manhattan locations on Fifth Ave. for an Abercrombie & Fitch flagship unit and on Bleecker St. for its Ruehl brand store. “There are a number of ideal locations throughout Europe for the company’s brands,” she says in a statement.

“We have been evaluating the European markets for some time,” says Mike Jeffries, CEO and chairman of the locally based retail chain, “and it is clear that the demand for the Abercrombie & Fitch brand is very strong. We believe that now is the ideal time for us to execute our international growth strategy with expansion throughout Europe.”

He did not say how many European units are planned or allude, as he did in the February conference call, to expansion elsewhere. At that time he said the company was also exploring Tokyo. During the conference call, Michael Kramer, SVP and CFO, also said the company’s Hollister Co. brand would expand overseas in 2008.

At the end of its June fiscal quarter, there were 355 Abercrombie & Fitch stores, 182 abercrombie units, 409 Hollister Co. stores and 17 Ruehl units in the US. In addition, there were three Abercrombie & Fitch and three Hollister Co. stores in Canada as well as the new Abercrombie & Fitch in London. Same-store sales were up 2% in the June fiscal quarter, and net sales were up 21%.

ANF common stock ended trading on the NYSE on Friday, July 13 at $74.34 a share. This compares with a 52-week low of $49.98 a share nearly a year ago on July 18, 2006, and a 52-week high of $84.92 a share on this April 27.

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