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Featured Events | Nov 20, 2015 |

Hollister exec embraced change, challenge in retail career

Fran Horowitz, at left, brand president of Hollister Co. and Dean Donna Rapaccioli, right, speak with a student after Horowitz spoke at an International Business Week event on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015.

Fran Horowitz, at left, brand president of Hollister Co. and Dean Donna Rapaccioli, right, speak with a student after Horowitz spoke at an International Business Week event on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015.

When Fran Horowitz got a headhunting call from a clothing company called Limited Brands, it represented a major shift in her career arc.

The fact that it happened when she was about 40 didn’t matter, the brand president for Hollister Co. told a Fordham University audience Wednesday.

“When people tell you that, at the age of 40, you can’t change who you are and change what you do, you can tell them that that is actually not true,” Horowitz said.

Having worked for Bloomingdale’s and other large retailers, Horowitz was facing a move into something called “vertical specialty retail,” in which companies control every part of product’s lifecycle, from design to manufacturing to retail. It was a great change—including a family move to Columbus, Ohio—but it yielded great rewards.

She was, she said, “very happy that I made that change.”

Since then, Horowitz has made a series of job moves within vertical specialty retail and ascended to her current position at Hollister, a division of global clothing giant Abercrombie & Fitch.

Horowitz told her International Business Week audience about recent changes at Abercrombie & Fitch, from fashioning a more pleasing in-store environment for customers to creating an “omni-channel” shopping experience, in which shoppers can research, provide feedback and purchase online, through mobile apps, and at brick-and-mortar stores.

The retailer, with $3.7 billion in sales, has 954 stores in 21 countries. A total of 566 of those stores—429 domestic and 136 international—are branded Hollister. About 35 percent of the company’s business comes from overseas.

As Abercrombie & Fitch begins to expand in Asia, Horowitz has been spending time there, just returning from a trip to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. The global experience, she said, is one of the personal benefits of working in the industry.

“One fabulous thing about being in retail, in my opinion, is you get to travel the world,” she said. “I’ve seen many places I would have never been able to get to without that opportunity. So if you like to travel, it’s a great career for that.”

 

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