Abercrombie & Fitch’s Stock Plummets on the News It Won’t Sell Itself

Jul 10, 2017

After fielding takeover offers, teen clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (anf) said on Monday it is no longer up for sale, and will instead focus on fixing the long ailing business itself.

The news sent Abercrombie shares plummeting 10% in premarket trading, bringing its market value down to about $740 million.

In May, after reporting yet another quarter of dismal sales, the once popular company confirmed it was in "preliminary discussions with several parties." According to subsequent media reports, potential bidders included competitors like Express (expr) and American Eagle Outfitters (aeo) (which would have teamed up with private equity firm Cerberus Capital), as well as Sycamore Partners, a buyout shop focused on retail.

But the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Abercrombie and its suitors failed to agree to acceptable terms.

So instead, Abercrombie & Fitch will go it alone in the hopes its turnaround plan takes hold.

"We believe in the prospects for our business and the opportunities for our brands," Arthur Martinez, the company's chairman said in a statement. "We are committed to taking sound, aggressive action to deliver enhanced performance and long-term stockholder value."

The news comes at a challenging time for Abercrombie, as younger consumers shun once popular brands. (A number of rivals have filed for bankruptcy in the last two years, including Aéropostale, American Apparel, Wet Seal, and just last week, True Religion.)

In May, Abercrombie reported that comparable sales at its namesake brand fell 10%, continuing a long deterioration. More promisingly, Hollister, its California-flavored sibling and a larger brand, saw its comparable sales rise a much better than expected 3%.

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Fran Horowitz has been trying to fix the namesake business, whose sales have declined for years now. A marketing campaign a few months to reposition the now logo-free brand has been a flop and the new A&F is still struggling to find an identity in a sea of apparel now dominated by fast fashion chains like H&M and Zara. Horowitz told Fortune in May that A&F could tap its deep roots from well before its 1990s heyday, when it was notorious for its bare-chested store greeters and provocative catalogs, to stage a comeback.

With retailers' shares taking a beating, and the sector's prospects unsure, valuations have plummeted, making deals harder to land. Neiman Marcus was also up for sale earlier this year, but ultimately pulled the plug on the process.

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