Abercrombie & Fitch says it's in talks to sell itself

Record store closings

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) is looking to secure its biggest sale ever: finding its own buyer.

The beleaguered teen clothing chain said it's in preliminary discussions with several parties about a "potential transaction" after reports emerged that it was in talks with interested buyers. 

The company's statement Wednesday that it had received "expressions of interest" came after news reports this week that the New Albany, Ohio-based chain was in talks with at least two possible buyers. Abercrombie & Fitch says it doesn't plan to comment again until the discussions are concluded.

Like other teen fashion retailers, A&F has been hurt by changing tastes as teens shop online more or opt for fast-fashion purveyors like H&M or Forever 21. In the last year or so, teen retailers Aeropostale Inc., American Apparel Inc. and Wet Seal have filed for bankruptcy. A&F "ended its year in a tailspin, with sales down by almost 7 percent and a slump in operating profit of 49 percent," noted Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, in a research note earlier this year. 

"Abercrombie simply doesn't resonate with customers like it once did," Saunders added. "In essence it has lost its reason for existing."

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Abercrombie has tried to tweak its brand to attract new shoppers. It dumped sexy ads and updated its fashions. It's also closed some stores. But the chain's sales have stayed weak. A&F is expected to report its fifth straight quarter of declines at established stores, a key metric, when it releases first-quarter result on May 25.

Shares of Abercrombie have taken a beating. The stock has plunged 49 percent in the past year through Tuesday. Its shares jumped 12 percent on Wednesday, following news of the potential sale. 

In February, Abercrombie & Fitch had promoted Fran Horowitz from president and chief merchandising officer to CEO. Horowitz replaced Michael Jeffries, who stepped down in 2014 amid much controversy after leading the retailer for more than 20 years.

A&F said in its statement Wednesday that there was "no assurance" the discussions will lead to a definitive agreement or that a transaction will occur