Fitch & Chips

Get those passports ready. Specialty retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  ) is embarking on a global push this morning, looking to expand in Europe. The company already has a presence in London. Now it is looking to add new stores in the United Kingdom while exploring its entry into Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden.

Sure, there's a bit of irony here. A&F has set its heart on being a globetrotter just as its original parent company -- Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD  ) -- is scaling back by cashing out on some of its flagship apparel concepts.

This would normally be good news. A company dips its feet into international waters with its first London store back in March, and is comfortable enough with the initial results to dive in deeper? Unfortunately, investors aren't as upbeat. The stock opened lower on the news.

I guess it's easy to be jaded. Too many stateside retailers have taken bold steps into overseas markets, only to realize that they're not as hot a brand on foreign land. Even the mighty Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) has had to cut its losses and bow out of Germany and South Korea. Gap (NYSE: GPS  ) was also handed its walking papers in Germany.

It gets even trickier for fickle fashion peddlers like Abercrombie & Fitch, where plenty can get lost in the translation. Entering new territories often means competing against established local players that have strong bonds with the shopping community.

However, every country is different. A&F may fly in some countries and get smacked down in others. Its namesake chain may wind up being a dud in Germany, but its Hollister stores may be the toast of Denmark.

You just don't know until you lease the space and let the local marketplace decide your fate. Naturally, that will take a little more time than this morning's rush to judgment on Wall Street.

Other headlines, ripped from the mall racks:

Limited is anIncome Investor stock pick. Wal-Mart and Gap have made the cut asInside Value stock picks. Gap is also aStock Advisor recommendation. And to get the latest scoop on other companies expanding throughout the globe like Abercrombie, check out the latest picks from ourGlobal Gains team. You can browse any of those racks for free for the next 30 days with a free trial subscription.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz bores easily at the mall. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of theRule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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