Dressbarn is closing all 650 stores and its e-Commerce site, marking the end of a 57-year run for the women’s apparel retailer. For now, the stores and e-Commerce site remain open and conducting business as usual, while Dressbarn says it will share more specific information related to the store closings at a later date.
The retailer, which reorganized under its parent company Ascena Retail Group in 2011 and operates alongside brands such as Ann Taylor, LOFT and Lane Bryant, has retained A&G Realty Partners to assist on the closures.
Ascena’s major weakness across its banners is relatively low sales per store compared to competitors. The company’s average store sells 43% less than the average Express store, 68% less than the average Gap store and an estimated 72% less than the average U.S. Inditex store, according to 2018 data from RetailNext. In its most recent quarter, Ascena’s retailers saw 2% comparable store sales growth, but total net losses widened to $71.5 million from a $39.3 million loss last year.
Ann Taylor and LOFT remain the company’s strongest brands, driving the best comparable sales growth rates at Ascena at 10% each in Q2.
Not counting the Dressbarn closures, Ascena expects to close 260+ more stores after July 2019. As part of its bounce-back attempt, Ascena recently sold its majority stake in the value fashion chain Maurices, to OpCapita for $300 million.
Ascena is seeking to steer its business back in the right direction under a new CEO, Gary Muto. The retail group saw both CEO David Jaffe and President/COO Brian Lynch step down from their roles in early May, with the former remaining on the company’s Board of Directors.
The Jaffe resignation was significant, marking the first time a Jaffe did not run the company in its history. Jaffe’s parents, Elliot and Roslyn, founded Dressbarn in 1962 in Stamford, Conn. Elliot served as a director since 1966, Chairman of the Board until 2011, CEO until 2002, and as non-executive Chairman of the Board until his retirement in December 2016. Together, Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe still own approximately 25% of Ascena stock.
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