American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) is an American clothing and accessories retailer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1977 by Mark and Jerry Silverman as a subsidiary of Retail Ventures, Inc., a company which also owned and operated Silverman's Menswear. The Silvermans sold their ownership interests in 1991.
American Eagle (also stylized as Am. Eagle, A.E.O, Amer. Eagle, A.E., æ and A.E. Outfitters) targets older teens and young adults. Some of the best selling products of American Eagle Outfitters are Low-rise jeans, Polo Shirts, Graphic T-shirts (with the AE logo and year established), and swimwear.
When the Silvermans first opened an American Eagle Outfitters store in 1977, they were looking to diversify their menswear business. Stores were set up in shopping malls and a catalog was established. The chain grew for much of the 1980s. In 1989, the owners decided to refocus their business on American Eagle Outfitters, selling their other retail chains. At this time, there were 137 American Eagle Outfitters stores in 37 states.
Despite the plans for quick growth after the reorganization, American Eagle Outfitters opened only sixteen new stores by 1991 and the company was losing money. Now the Schottensteins, who had been 50% owners of the chain since 1980, bought out the founding Silverman family's interest. This change in leadership caused American Eagle to find its present niche: casual clothing for men and women selling private label clothes.
When the company began trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange in the second quarter of 1994, it had 167 stores and a healthy cash flow. With the cash infusion from the IPO, the company opened more than 90 new stores within the next year. Several new executives joined the company in 1995 and '96, leading to another change in the target demographic. The company now wanted to reach more women and focus on people between 16 and 35.
The strategy worked, and over the next five years revenues quintupled to $1 billion by 2000. American Eagle claimed 1101 stores across three brands (American Eagle Outfitters, Aerie, and Martin + Osa) in November 2008 and $3 billion in revenues for the most recent fiscal year.
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