In the premiere episode of Yahoo Finance’s new series “Lead This Way,” Yahoo Finance Executive Editor Brian Sozzi sat down with Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Fran Horowitz to discuss her leadership style and how she turned the once-struggling retailer’s fortunes around. Storch Advisors Gerald “Jerry” Storch, the former CEO of both Toys R Us and Hudson’s Bay, credits Horowitz for her focus on the customer. “The most important thing is that passionate focus on the customer. At the end of the day, that’s what every business is about, big or small, any business is about the customer,” Storch says. BMO Capital Markets Managing Director Simeon Siegel agrees, saying if a company has the other fundamentals in place and its leader is willing to “forgo what the identity was in the past” they can recreate their brand’s image. When it comes to who is winning and losing in retail right now, Storch cautions that a lot of data surrounding Cyber Week sales only takes into account online sales and it’s likely that success came at the expense of brick-and-mortar retailers. When it comes to winners, Storch thinks Walmart (WMT), Costco (COST), TJX Companies (TJX), and Amazon (AMZN) are all in a position to have a successful holiday shopping season. Siegel thinks that the holiday shopping season has gotten off to a “good start,” though he points out that the bigger question is what happens in the lull between Black Friday and last-minute Christmas shopping. Siegel says that when he looks at the retail space right now, he sees “pairings.” “I’m seeing companies like Athleta see revenues down and we’ll see LULU up. You’re seeing companies like Coach up and Michael Kors down. They sell the same thing,” Siegel explains.
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