After more than 50 years in business, Dressbarn is closing up shop.
The clothing chain’s parent company, Ascena Retail Group Inc., announced on Tuesday that it will shut down all of the retailer’s 650 stores across the United States.
In a letter posted on the Dressbarn website, Ascena CEO Gary Muto wrote, “From working women to mothers on the go, we have been there for our customers — for their everyday needs as well as their most special occasions … It has been our pleasure to serve you, making it all the more difficult to let you know that the decision has been made to begin winding down the Dressbarn business.”
The move — which will affect about 6,800 employees — comes as Ascena shifts its focus on its more profitable brands, such as Ann Taylor and Loft. Last year, the firm brought in new leadership in an attempt to revamp the brand’s image as Dressbarn continued to struggle to compete in the apparel space. (The retailer also sells shoes.)
In the fiscal year ended Aug. 4, Ascena saw a decline of 10% in Dressbarn’s same-store sales. Revenues for the company’s fashion division, which included Dressbarn, dropped almost 7% to $1.82 billion.
“This decision was difficult, but necessary, as the Dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment,” CFO Steven Taylor said in a statement.
As it begins to shutter operations, Dressbarn stores and its e-commerce platform will remain open for customers, conducting business as usual. Shoppers can still use their Dressbarn credit cards for purchases, with no changes to its return, refund or gift card policies. (Plans for closing individual locations “will be shared during the wind-down process,” the statement read.)
The women’s apparel business becomes the latest casualty in the retail industry, which has seen more store closures so far this year compared with the total number recorded for the whole year of 2018.
“Dressbarn has been a challenged store concept for Ascena in the recent years with the shift in consumer preferences,” said Steve Marotta, senior VP of equity research and senior research analyst at CL King & Associates Inc. “The division it was in was losing money, and Ascena is under some financial distress at the moment. Out of all the retail concepts that they currently operate, [Dressbarn] is certainly one of the weaker ones from a profitability standpoint, so it’s not that large a surprise.”
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