‘Let the disruption continue’: American Eagle exec says the brand is primed to capitalize on the recent wave of store closings (AEO)

Teen-focused brand American Eagle, which also owns Aerie, reported a 6% increase in same-store sales for the fourth quarter of 2018 and 8% for the year overall on Wednesday. It also announced it would be opening more stores in 2019.

The news comes a week after Gap, JCPenney, and Victoria’s Secret announced more than 300 store closures over the course of 24 hours. Abercrombie & Fitch also announced Wednesday that it would be closing 40 stores and opening 40 new locations with less total square footage by year-end.

In a call with investors after announcing earnings, an American Eagle executive commented on the recent store closings, specifically Gap’s, saying that he saw this as an opportunity for the brand.

“I am excited by that,” he said, adding that denim has been a strong area of growth for American Eagle in 2018, a category in which it has considerable overlap with Gap.

“Let the disruption continue,” he added. He was quickly interrupted by CEO Jay Schottenstein.

On Thursday, Gap Inc. announced it would be splitting the company in two and closing 230 of its namesake brand’s stores over the next two years.

In an earnings call shortly after the announcement, Gap CEO Art Peck said the company would close up to 50% of its specialty fleet over the next few years. Specialty stores are defined as any Gap store excluding its outlet and factory locations.

Peck said most of these closures will occur in the US and will leave the brand with “a smaller, but healthier specialty fleet.”

The Gap brand has struggled in recent years — same-store sales were down 5% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and overall for the year.

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