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American Eagle seeks expansion to boost sales

| Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Teen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc. is eyeing expansion in the United Kingdom as it seeks to diversify its customer base amid slumping U.S. sales.

South Side-based American Eagle this year registered a Manchester, England-based subsidiary called American Eagle Outfitters UK Ltd., according to Companies House, the United Kingdom's corporation regulator. And in May, the company disclosed to investors that the UK was among international locations in which it would like to grow.

“We continue to evaluate further opportunities to expand internationally, which may include additional company-operated stores in Mexico, Asia and the United Kingdom,” the company stated in a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

American Eagle owns 117 overseas stores in Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, China and Puerto Rico, according to company statements. The company does not own stores in the United Kingdom.

On Sunday, the Telegraph of London reported that American Eagle was in talks to build three stores at shopping centers around London.

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

While adding stores overseas, American Eagle is closing shops in the United States as profits fall.

Last month, the retailer said it would shutter 150 stores during the next three years because net income plummeted 86 percent in the first quarter. The company has about 950 U.S. stores.

The closings are part of a strategy to cut costs at brick-and-mortar locations, shift focus toward online and mobile sales, reduce inventory, and roll out fashions on a shorter turnaround, officials said last month.

The apparel industry is struggling, especially in the teen market, where growth has been stagnant for a year.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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