Women's Wear Daily

Ascena Turnaround Shows Progress

Progressing in turnaround efforts, the Ascena Retail Group, parent company of Loft, Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, Cacique, Dressbarn, Justice and Lou & Grey, reported net income from continuing operations of $32 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, in its fiscal first quarter ended Nov. 2. That compared with a net loss of $24 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Comparable sales were flat. Excluding the operations of Dressbarn, which is being liquidated, comparable sales were negative 2 percent. Net sales for the first quarter were $1.3 million compared to $1.34 million in the year-ago period. By division, comparable sales were down 1 percent at Ann Taylor; down 2 percent at Loft; up 2 percent at Lane Bryant; down 5 percent at Catherines, and down 6 percent Justice. Operating income was $40 million, which primarily reflects the benefit of cost reductions, offset in part by lower gross margin; adjusted operating income, excluding restructuring costs, was $45 million. The operating results were within guidance. For its second fiscal quarter, Ascena is projecting net sales of approximately $1.2 billion to $1.23 billion; comparable sales of negative low-single-digits, and adjusted operating loss of $40 million to $60 million. E-commerce currently represents 34 percent

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