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Abercrombie Picks a New Chief Digital Officer

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Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has appointed Samir Desai as its chief digital and technology officer, a newly created role at the company.

In its announcement Monday, Abercrombie, which operates the A&F, Hollister, Gilly Hicks, Abercrombie Kids and Social Tourist brands, indicated that Desai will be responsible for leading the company’s “ongoing digital transformation strategy, including developing strategic initiatives through data and analytics, optimizing customer and user experiences and further evolving the company’s portfolio of brands into digital experiences that are unique to each of their diverse audiences.”

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Fran Horowitz, A&F’s chief executive officer, said Desai’s “robust background and deep knowledge of technology innovation will be incredibly valuable as we continue our transformation journey to being a digitally led retailer. Over the past several years, we have prioritized investing in our digital capabilities. With Samir’s leadership, we look forward to further enhancing our omnichannel experiences and technology practices to remain close to our global customers.”

Desai most recently served as chief technology officer at Equinox, the luxury fitness company, where he was responsible for developing and executing a “comprehensive data strategy across the brand portfolio, launching a direct-to-consumer digital media business, creating customer experiences that fused physical and digital strategies, and more.”

Desai will be a member of A&F’s executive steering committee and will report directly to Horowitz.

Horowitz earlier this year said A&F has shifted to a digitally-led business model. The company has set a $100 million capital expenditure budget for 2021, about half of which will be spent on the digital operations. In digital, “the most important investment is in the experience,” Horowitz said, noting that last year, the company shored up talent in the company’s user and data analytics teams.

Digital sales increased 39 percent to $1.7 billion in 2020, meaning it represented 54 percent of annual revenues last year. Senior-level talent was in added in digital and other areas last year.