Recent acquisitions bolster Ascena’s Q3 results

SUFFERN, N.Y. — Lower-than-expected foot traffic driven in part by unseasonably cold weather was not enough to negatively impact Ascena Retail Group’s net sales for the third quarter ended April 27, which were bolstered by the recently acquired Lane Bryant and Catherines businesses.

The company reported net sales for the quarter of $1.1 billion, an increase of 46% from $783 million in the prior year’s third quarter. The growth was driven by the inclusion of the company’s recently acquired Lane Bryant and Catherines businesses, slightly offset by a total comparable stores and e-commerce sales decrease of 1% for the quarter versus the prior year. Consolidated comparable store sales, excluding e-commerce, fell 4% for the period. E-commerce sales rose 171% to $98 million on a consolidated basis and 37% on a comparable basis.

“Our soft third quarter top line performance reflects lower than expected traffic driven by continued economic challenges for our customers and unseasonably cold weather as well as merchandising misses at Lane Bryant and Dressbarn,” said president and CEO David Jaffe. “Sales trends improved somewhat across all brands in Q4 to date compared to Q3, and we are adjusting our promotional plans to ensure that spring inventory balances are at appropriate levels by the end of our Fiscal 2013 fourth quarter.” 

Unseasonably cold weather and economic pressure on middle-income consumers drove decreased traffic and spending, which contributed to negative comparable store sales of 4% at Justice, 6% at Lane Bryant, 3% at Maurices and 7% at Dressbarn, whereas Catherines realized an 8% increase in comparable store sales. 

Ascena Retail Group is a leading specialty retailer offering clothing, shoes and accessories for missy and plus-size women, under the Lane Bryant, Cacique, Maurices, Dressbarn and Catherines brands, and for tween girls and boys, under the Justice and Brothers brands. Ascena Retail Group operates through its subsidiaries approximately 3,800 stores throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.