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Amid Sinking Sales, Abercrombie & Fitch Is Exiting Australia, Looking Into Changing the Music Volume in Stores

On that last point: finally!
Abs. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Abs. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The hits keep coming for Abercrombie & Fitch. Just not the good kind.

The retailer released its 2014 sales results Wednesday, reporting that net sales across its brands dropped 9 percent in 2014 to $3.7 billion. (Its namesake brand brought in $1.5 billion for the year.) 

But we've got some especially bad news for Abercrombie's (apparently few) fans Down Under: the retailer has decided to exit Australia. Execs noted on the company's earnings call Wednesday morning that while they always knew it would be a difficult market, it turned out to be even more challenging than expected.

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So is the floundering Abercrombie & Fitch finally ready to make good on an image revamp now? Former CEO Michael Jeffries, known for stirring up controversy with insensitive comments, finally got the boot in December, and though the retailer has the tough PR task of managing a Supreme Court case accusing it of religious discrimination, the executive team is doing what work it can to change up its vibe on the sales floor. They're playing around with varying the music (and its typically deafening volume), the stores' cave-like darkness and how product gets laid out. Sales associates might be in for retraining sessions, as well. Execs said on the company's earnings call that they're "leaving no stone unturned." Might the new Abercrombie & Fitch be... friendly? Maybe.

Of course, Abercrombie is also in the midst of fixing up its clothing, much like its fellow strugglebus Gap. Comparable sales of its non-logo business are up slightly, and women's jeans, outerwear and dresses are showing positive trends. But there's a lot that needs help, and the team says it's looking into expanding the breadth of certain product categories and taking greater fashion risks overall. Abercrombie is introducing handpainted prints soon, so stay tuned for that.