The Wall Street Journal reports that teen brand Abercrombie & Fitch is in merger talks with at least two other mall brands: Express and American Eagle Outfitters. Abercrombie has been languishing in recent years with decreased sales and share prices in free-fall. Part of this has to do with the brutal retail landscape: Other mall brands targeting teens–like Aeropostale, Wet Seal, and American Apparel–have had to file for bankruptcy recently.
But Abercrombie has also had problems of its own making. The brand has faced criticism for projecting an image that was too sexually explicit. Two years ago, with new leadership from executive chairman Arthur Martinez, there has been a concerted effort to revamp Abercrombie by downplaying sexuality and projecting a more inclusive image. None of this has actually helped win over customers: Same-store sales have declined for four quarters. Perhaps it was too little too late?