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Abercrombie to close 180 US stores

The Associated Press

Teen clothing seller Abercrombie & Fitch Co. plans to close 180 U.S. stores over the next few years as it tries to improve its financial performance.

Abercrombie used to generate most of its sales in the U.S. but has shifted its focus to overseas markets such as Europe and Asia, where it is still growing.

The chain has already closed 135 underperforming U.S. stores over the past two years.

Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Ramsden told investors Wednesday at the Deutsche Bank Global Consumer Conference in Paris that the company will close 180 more "over the next few years," according to documents the company filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The closures will primarily be among its namesake and kids brands but Ramsden said company, based in New Albany, Ohio, will close a few Hollister stores as well.

Abercrombie's revenue slid in 2008 and 2009 due to weakness in the U.S., which produced 90 percent of its sales at the time. Its sales grew again in 2010 and 2011 in part because it was expanding online and abroad.

By 2011, Abercrombie generated roughly 65 percent of its revenue from U.S. stores and 21 percent from international stores.

The company said its margins are still much lower in the U.S.

Its shares fell $1.28, nearly 4 percent, to close Thursday at $30.97, just above their 52-week low of $30.26. On Wednesday, the shares rose 15 cents to close at $32.27. They have traded as high as $78.25 over the past year.