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Online aids Ascena sales of niche brands


Healthy e-commerce growth offset a sales slowdown at Ascena Retail Group’s physical stores and enabled the company to achieve its first quarter financial expectations.

Ascena, operator of stores under the Lane Bryant, Cacique, Maurices, Dressbarn, Catherines, Justice and Brothers brands, said same store sales declined 2% during its first quarter ended Oct. 25 as a 16% comp increase online wasn’t enough to offset a 4% decline at physical stores.

Total sales were essentially flat at $1.2 billion as was income from continuing operations which totaled $53.5 million. On an adjusted basis, income from continuing operations declined to $46 million, or 28 cents, compared to 36 cents.

“We are pleased that we delivered the first quarter in line with our expectations. Conditions remain challenging as we transition into Holiday, and we will react appropriately to drive sales to ensure we end the season at targeted inventory levels,” said Ascena president and CEO David Jaffe. “We continue to make progress on the key strategic projects that are forming our new operating platform. We remain excited about the power of this model, and we are now on the back side of the capital investment cycle that was required to achieve our vision for a centralized, efficient, and scalable shared infrastructure base."

Jaffe said the company’s strong portfolio of brands which communicate value to customers would aid it during the holiday’s even through the company is watchful about the state of the market and continues to plan conservatively.

“We are confident that the niche positioning of our brands, reinforced by a best-in-class, shared service infrastructure, will allow us to drive profitability and deliver value to our shareholders,” Jaffe said.

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