Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Kohl's and Gap, Inc. are the latest companies to announce their plans to reopen temporarily shuttered stores as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
Fran Horowitz, Abercrombie & Fitch's chief executive officer, announced on Wednesday that the company has begun the process of reopening its North American and EMEA region stores in locations where regulations allow via a regulatory filing, as well as a note posted to the Abercrombie and Hollister Co. websites.
"We are optimistic for the future and we’re happy to announce that we have begun to open select stores globally on a rolling basis and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead," said Horowitz. "We will open stores as state and local regulations allow and as we are able to meet the applicable safety and health standards."
"Upon reopening, our store teams will follow processes and procedures in accordance with guidance from government and health authorities, including the use of personal protective equipment, social distancing, contactless payment options, and more...Looking ahead, we will continue to actively monitor our stores and stay in close contact with our communities, making adjustments as the situation evolves."
The temporary North American and EMEA store closings for the company's brands, including Abercrombie, Abercrombie Kids and Hollister, were first announced in mid-March. These closings were later extended, and the company further announced that it borrowed $210 million under its senior secured asset-based revolving credit facility and withdrew the majority of excess funds from its Rabbi Trust--amounting to approximately $50 million in additional cash--in order to boost liquidity.
Updated store openings and store hours will be posted on the Abercrombie and Hollister websites, the company said.
The parent company of Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Janie and Jack, and Intermix announced that it is preparing to reopen 800 stores by the end of May. On Wednesday, the company said that these openings will begin with a small selection of locations in Texas.
In order to follow WHO and CDC safety recommendations, the company said its employees will wear masks, practice physical distancing and wash and sanitize their hands frequently, while stores will increase their sanitation efforts, enforce physical distancing among customers, and have health guards at checkout. The company also said it would quarantine returns for 24 hours before putting the clothes back on shelves.
“In working with industry partners and public officials to define Safe Shopping practices, we’re eager to begin welcoming our teams and customers back to our stores, and confident in our ability to safely scale North America openings over the coming months in line with local guidelines,” said Sonia Syngal, chief executive officer of Gap Inc.
“We continue to use this crisis as an opportunity at every turn. As we leverage our stores as distribution hubs, lean into the meaningful acceleration of our online business and play forward the learnings from our Asia business where all locations are now open, we believe we’ll be well-positioned as this crisis subsides.”
The announcement comes after Gap announced in April that, with stores temporarily closed in response to the pandemic, the company was uncertain if it would have the funds to continue operations for the next 12 months. The company also announced that it had suspended rent payments for closed stores, and was in talks with landlords to defer payments, change lease agreements, or even terminate leases and permanently close select stores.
After extending the temporary closure of its stores nationwide in late March, Kohl's said earlier this week that it is reopening stores in alignment with the Covid-19 timelines and precautions for each state and locale, with many stores operating with reduced hours. The first round of reopened stores are located in Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah.
In addition to limiting store hours, the company said it is implementing further safety precautions by upholding physical distancing practices in stores, ramping up its cleaning and sanitation practices, and reserving certain shopping hours for consumers who are most at-risk, including those above the age of 60, pregnant customers and those who have underlying health conditions. Kohl's will also require all employees to wear masks and gloves.
The company first announced the temporary closure of its store on March 19. After extending these closures, the company further announced that it would draw down on its $1 billion revolving credit facility and cut spending by about $500 million to make it through the pandemic.
Currently, Kohl's operates over 1,100 stores nationwide.