While playing expat in the Netherlands, I did a little shopping with my wife. We went to a store called Geddes and Gillmore (http://www.geddesandgillmore.com/gallery/) in The Hague. The look of the store, including the merchandise and the pictures of young people screams Abercrombie and Fitch. The company has a website that includes an ANF type history (actually a bit like the Gilly Hicks story), complete with a fictional character, Michael Geddes, who goes to a fictional university: It's called the University of New York (the errors are odd like that). There's also a bit about an godfather, Jack Geddes, who emigrated to Australia from the US and left a factory to our friend Michael upon his death. The story goes on to say how successful the company is in Australia and that Michael Geddes, upon meeting Cathy Gillmore, decides to expand in the US. However, they choose to open stores in Europe first. The entire story doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It doesn't have to. In reality, Geddes and Gillmore has no stores in Australia. It has stores primarily in the Netherlands, with a presence in Portugal.The website is in English, although some oddball mistakes make it seem like it was not written by a native English speaker. Among other things, the expansion plan is about laughing this unique clothing and store concept. Also, the reference to a fictional university suggests either a completely tongue in cheek approach to building the history of the company (likely) or a complete lack of information to flesh out the story (also likely).After going to the store, I decided to check whether ANF wanted to expand in Europe under a different brand name. The 10-Qs and 10-Ks did not suggest anything of the sort.A little more investigation pointed to a website (http://marijndenhartog.org/geddesgillmore.aspx) with some info about Geddes and Gillmore. Strategic positioning of a new, starting casual clothing retail brand. Responsible for formulating and implementation of the business-, brand- and marketing strategy. The international investors asked me to be a part of the initiating team to develop a fitting strategy. After 10 months, the first 8 stores were opened and this process will be copied throughout Europe in the upcomming 5 years.Another clue comes from the following blog: http://thrillison.blogspot.com/. I’ve never seen a more direct imitator of another company. From the logo to the store architecture, everything is stolen from Abercrombie’s handbook circa 2005. The models, the way imagery is post-produced, the logo behind figures in photographs—everything is practically identical. What makes Geddes particularly odd is in reading the online brand “story,” which is filled with truly bizarre anecdotes and inconsistencies (like giving three different spellings for one of the founders).Can a company really just copy another company's look and feel?Can ANF fans and aficionados shed a little light on this mystery?
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